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i 



THE FOUR GEORGES. 



THE ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



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rilK I'OUk GEOlUiJLS 



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THE FOUR GEORGES. 



THE ENGLISH HUMOURISTS 

OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 
BV W. M. THACKERAY. 



W ITU rORTBAITS. 



LONDON: 
SMITH, ELDER & CO., 15, WATERLOO PLACE. 



£ro. jc, /ij. 



CONTENTS. 



• 



THE FOUR GEORGES. 

PACE 

George the First i 

George the Second 33 

George the Third 63 

George the Fourth 97 



THE ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Swift 135 

congreve and addison 1 73 

Steele 210 

Prior, Gay, and Pope 248 

Hogarth, Smollett, and Fielding 291 

Sterne and Goldsmith 326 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



George the First [to face Title.) 
The Electress Sophia 
George the Second 

Ave Ci£SAR 

George the Third 

Group of Portraits by Gilray 

A Little Rebel 

George the Fourth . 

Group of Portraits 



page lo 
To face „ 35 
36 

65 
87 
88 

99 
102 



The Prince and Princess of Wales page 124 



Swift 
Congreve 
Addison . 
Steele . 
Gay . 
Pope 
Hogarth 
Sterne. 



To face page 135 

173 
192 
210 
256 
264 
291 
326 



THE FOUR GEORGES: 

SKETCHES OF MANNERS, MORALS, COURT, 

AND TOWN LIFE. 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 



r 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 




VERY few years since, 
I knew fainil arly a lady, 
who had been asked in 
mamage by Horace Wal- 
pole who had been patted 
on the head by George I. 
This lady had knocked at 
Dr Johnsons door had 
been intimate with Fox, 
the beautiful Ceorgina of 
Devonshire and that bril- 
I ant Wh g soc ety of the 
regnof George III had 
known the Duchess of 
Queensberry, the patro- 
ness of Gay and Prior, the 
admired young beauty of 
the court of Queen Anne. 
I often thought as I took 
my kind old friend's hand, 
how with it I held on 



4i. — The initial letter is Irran an old Dutch ptint of HetrenliBUsai. 



4 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

to the old society of wits and men of the world. I could travel back 
for seven score years of time — have glimpses of Brummell, Selwyn, 
Chesterfield, and the men of pleasure ; of Walpole and Conway ; of 
Johnson, Re)molds, Goldsmith ; of North, Chatham, Newcastle ; of 
the fair maids of honour of George II/s court; of the German 
retainers of George I.*s ; where Addison was secretary of state ; where 
Dick Steele held a place ; whither the great Marlborough came with 
his fiery spouse ; when Pope, and Swift, and Bolingbroke yet lived 
and wrote. Of a society so vast, busy, brilliant, it is impossible in 
four brief chapters to give a complete notion ; but we may peep here 
and there into that bygone world of the Georges, see what they and 
their courts were like ; glance at the people round about them ; look 
at past manners, fashions, pleasures, and contrast them with our own. 
I have to say thus much by way of preface, because the subject of 
these lectures has been misunderstood, and I have been taken to task 
for not having given grave historical treatises, which it never was my 
intention to attempt. Not about battles, about politics, about states- 
men and measures of state, did I ever think to lecture you : but to 
sketch the manners and life of the old world ; to amuse for a few 
hours with talk about the old society ; and, with the result of many a 
day's and night's pleasant reading, to try and while away a few winter 
evenings for my hearers. 

Among the German princes who sat under Luther at Wittenberg, 
was Duke Ernest of Celle, whose younger son, William of Liineburg, 
was the progenitor of the illustrious Hanoverian house at present 
reigning in Great Britain. Duke William held his court at Celle, a 
little town of ten thousand people that lies on the railway line between 
Hamburg and Hanover, in the midst of great plains of sand, upon the 
river Aller. When Duke William had it, it was a very hiunble wood- 
built place, with a great brick church, which he sedulously frequented, 
and in which he and others of his house lie buried. He was a very 
religious lord, and was called William the Pious by his small circle of 
subjects, over whom he ruled till fate deprived him both of sight and 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 5 

reason. Sometimes, in his latter days, the good Duke had glimpses 
of mental light, when he would bid his musicians play the psalm-tunes 
which, he loved. One thinks of a descendant of his, two hundred 
years afterwards, blind, old, and lost of wits, singing Handel in 
Windsor Tower. 

William the Pious had fifteen children, eight daughters and seven 
sons, who, as the property left among them was small, drew lots to 
determine which one of them should marry, and continue the stout 
race of the Guelplis. The lot fell on Duke George, the sixth brother. 
The others remained single, or contracted left-handed marriages after 
the princely fashion of those days. It is a queer picture — that of the 
old Prince dying in his little wood-built capital, and his seven sons 
tossing up which should inherit and transmit the crown of Brentford. 
Duke George, the lucky prizeman, made the tour of Europe, during 
which he visited the court of Queen Elizabeth ; and in the year 161 7, 
came back and settled at Zell, with a wife out of Darmstadt. His 
remaining brothers all kept their house at Zell, for economy's sake. 
And presently, in due course, they all died — all the honest Dukes ; 
Ernest, and Christian, and Augustus, and Magnus, and George, and 
John — and they are buried in the brick church of Brentford yonder, 
by the sandy banks of the Alien 

Dr. Vehse gives a pleasant glimpse of the way of life of our Dukes 
in Zell. "When the trumpeter on the tower has blown," Duke 
Christian orders — viz. at nine o'clock in the morning, and four in the 
evening— -every one must be present at meals, and those who are not 
must go without. None of the servants, unless it be a knave wlio has 
been ordered to ride out, shall eat or drink in the kitchen or cellar ; 
or, without special leave, fodder liis horses at the Prince's cost. When 
the meal is served in the court-room, a page shall go round and bid 
every one be quiet and orderly, forbidding all cursing, swearing, and 
rudeness ; all throwing about of bread, bones, or roast, or pocketing 
of the same. Every morning, at seven, the squires shall have their 
morning soup, along with which, and dinner, they shall be served with 
their under-drink — every morning, except Friday morning, when there 



6 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

was sennon, and no drink. Every evening they shall have their beer, 
and at night their sleep-drink. The butler is especially warned not 
to allow noble or simple to go into the cellar : wine shall only be 
served at the Prince's or councillors* table ; and every Monday, the 
honest old Duke Christian ordains the accounts shall be ready, and 
the expenses in the kitchen, the ^-ine and beer cellar, the bakehouse 
and stable, made out. 

Duke Geoige, the marrying Duke, did not stop at home to partake 
of the beer and wine, and the sermons. He went about fighting 
wherever there was profit to be had. He served as general in the 
army of the circle of Lower Saxony, the Protestant army ; then he 
went over to the Emperor, and fought in his armies in Germany and 
Italy ; and when GustaNois Adolphus appeared in Germany, George 
took service as a Swedish general, and seized the Abbey of Hildesheira, 
as his share of the plunder. Here, in the year 1641, Duke George 
died, leaving four sons behind him, from the youngest of whom 
descend our royal Georges. 

Under these children of Duke George, the old God-fearing, simple 
ways of Zell appear to have gone out of mode. The second brother 
was constantly visiting Venice, and leading a jolly, wicked life there. 
It was the most jovial of all places at the end of the seventeenth 
century ; and military men, after a campaign, rushed thither, as the 
warriors of the Allies rushed to Paris in 18 14, to gamble, and rejoice, 
and partake of all sorts of godless delights. This Prince, then, 
loving Venice and its pleasures, brought Italian singers and dancers 
back with him to quiet old Zell ; and, worse still, demeaned himself 
by marrying a French lady of birth quite inferior to his own — Eleanor 
d'Olbreuse, from whom our Queen is descended. Eleanor had a 
pretty daughter, who inherited a great fortune, which inflamed her 
cousin, George Louis of Hanover, with a desire to marry her ; and 
so, with her beauty and her riches, she came to a sad end 

It is too long to tell how the four sons of Duke George divided 
his territories amongst them, and how, finally, they came into pos- 
session of the son of the youngest of the four. In this generation 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 7 

the Protestant faith was very nearly extinguished in the family : and 
then where should we in England have gone for a king ? The third 
brother also took delight in Italy, where the priests converted him 
and his Protestant chaplain too. Mass was said in Hanover once 
more ; and Italian soprani piped their I^tin rhymes in place of the 
hymns which William the Pious and Dr. Luther sang. Louis XIV. 
gave this and other converts a splendid pension. Crowds of French- 
men and brilliant French fashions came into his court. It is incal- 
culable how much that royal bigwig cost Germany. Every prince 
imitated the French King, and had his Versailles, his Wilhelmshohe 
or Ludwigslust; his court and its splendours ; his gardens laid out 
with statues ; his fountains, and water-works, and Tritons ; his actors, 
and dancers, and singers, and fiddlers ; his harem, with its inha- 
bitants ; his diamonds and duchies for these latter ; his enormous 
festivities, his gaming-tables, tournaments, masquerades, and banquets 
lasting a week long, for which the people paid with their money, 
when the poor wretches had it ; with their bodies and very blood 
when they had none; being sold in thousands by their lords and 
masters, who gaily dealt in soldiers, staked a regiment upon 
the red at the gambling-table; swapped a battalion against a 
dancing-girl's diamond necklace; and, as it were, pocketed their 
people. 

As one views Europe, through contemporary books of travel in 
the early part of the last century, the landscape is awful — wretched 
wastes, b^garly and plundered; half-biuned cottages and trembling 
peasants gathering piteous harvests ; gangs of such tramping along 
with bayonets behind them, and corporals with canes and cats-of- 
nine^tails to flog them to barracks. By these passes my lord's gilt 
carriage floundering through the ruts, as he swears at the postilions, 
and toils on to the Residenz. Hard by, but away from the noise 
and brawling of the citizens and buyers, is Wilhelmslust or Lud- 
wigsruhe, or Monbijou, or Versailles — it scarcely matters which, — 
near to the city, shut out by woods from the beggared country, the 
enormousy hideous, gilded, monstrous marble palace, where the 



8 THE FOUR GEORGES, • 

Prince is, and the Court, and the trim gardens, and huge fountains, 
and the forest where the ragged peasants are beating the game in (it 
is death to them to touch a feather) ; and the jolly hunt sweeps by 
with its uniform of crimson and gold ; and the Prince gallops ahead 
puffing his royal horn ; and his lords and mistresses ride after him ; 
and the stag is pulled down ; and the grand huntsman gives the knife 
in the midst of a chorus of bugles ; and *tis time the Court go home 
to dinner ; and our noble traveller, it may be the Baron of PoUnitz, 
or the Count de Konigsmarck, or the excellent Chevalier de Seingalt, 
sees the procession gleaming through the trim avenues of the wood, 
and hastens to the inn, and sends his noble namfe to the marshal of 
the Court. Then our nobleman arrays himself in green and gold, or 
pink and silver, in the richest Paris mode, and is introduced by the 
chamberlain, and makes his bow to the jolly Prince, and the gracious 
Princess ; and is presented to the chief lords and ladies, and then 
comes supper and a bank at Faro, where he loses or wins a thousand 
pieces by daylight. If it is a German court, you may add not a little 
drunkenness to this picture of high life ; but German, or French, or 
Spanish, if you can see out of your palace-windows beyond the trim- 
cut forest vistas, misery is lying outside ; hunger is stalking about 
the bare villages, listlessly following precarious husbandry ; ploughing 
stony fields with starved cattle ; or fearfully taking in scanty harvests. 
Augustus is fat and jolly on his throne ; he can knock down an ox, 
and eat one almost ; his mistress, Aurora von Konigsmarck, is the 
loveliest, the wittiest creature ; his diamonds are the biggest and 
most brilliant in the world, and his feasts as splendid as those of 
Versailles. As for Louis the Great, he is more than mortal. Lift up 
your glances respectfully, and. mark him eyeing Madame de Fontanges 
or Madame de Montespan from under his sublime periwig, as he 
passes through the great gallery where Villars and Vendome, and 
Berwick, and Bossuet, and Massillon are waiting. Can Court be 
more splendid ; nobles and knights, more gallant and superb j ladies 
more lovely? A grander monarch, or a more miserable starved 
wretch than the peasant his subject, you cannot look on. Let us 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 9 

bear both these types in mind, if we wish to estimate the old society 
properly. Remember the glory and the chivalry ? Yes! Remember 
the grace and beauty, the splendour and lofty politeness ; the gallant 
courtesy of Fontenoy, where the French line bids the gentlemen of 
the English guard to fire first ; the noble constancy of the old King 
and Villars his general, who fits out the last army with the last crown- 
piece from the treasury, and goes to meet the enemy and die or 
conquer for France at Denain. But round all that royal splendour 
lies a nation enslaved and ruined : there are people robbed of their 
rights — communities laid waste — faith, justice, commerce trampled 
upon, and well-nigh destroyed — nay, in the very centre of royalty 
itself, what horrible stains and meanness, crime and shame ! It is 
but to a silly harlot that some of the noblest gentlemen, and some of 
the proudest women in the world, are bowing down ; it is the price 
of a miserable province that the King ties in diamonds round his 
mistress's white neck. In the first half of the last century, I say, 
this is going on all Europe over. Saxony is a waste as well as 
Picardy or Artois ; and Versailles is only larger and not worse than 
Herrenhausen. 

It was the first Elector of Hanover who made the fortunate 
match which bestowed the race of Hanoverian Sovereigns upon us 
Britons. Nine years after Charles Stuart lost his head, his niece 
Sophia, one of many children of another luckless dethroned sovereign, 
the Elector Palatine, married Ernest Augustus of Brunswick, and 
brought the reversion to the crown of the three kingdoms in her 
scanty trousseau. 

One of the handsomest, the most cheerfiil, sensible, shrewd, 
accomplished of women, was Sophia,* daughter of poor Frederick, 
the winter king of Bohemia, The other daughters of lovely, unhappy 
Elizabeth Stuart went off into the Catholic Church ; this one, luckily 
for her family, remained, I cannot say faithful to the Reformed 
Religion, but at least she adopted no other. An agent of the French ' 

♦ The portraits on the next page are from contemporar}- prints of this Princess, 
before her marriage and in her old age. 



THE FOUR GEORGES. 



King's, Gourville, a convert himself, strove to bring her and her 
husband to a sense of the truth ; and tells us that he one day asked 
Madame the Duchess of Hanover, of what religion her daughter was, 
then a pretty girl of thirteen years old. The duchess replied that 
the princess was of no religion as yet. They were waiting to know of 
what religion her husband would be, Protestant or Catholic, before 
instructing her ! And the Duke of Hanover having heard all 
Gourville's proposal, said that a change would be advant-igeous to his 
house, but that he himself was too old to change. 




This shrewd woman hid such keen eyes that she knew how to 
shut them upon occasion and was blmd to many faults which it 
appeared that her husband the Bishop of Osnaburg and Duke of 
Hanover committed He loved to take his pleasure like otlier 
sovereigns — nas a merry prmce, fond of dinner and the bottle ; liked 
to go to Italy, as his brothers had done before him ; and we read how 



GEORGE THE FIRST. ii 

he jovially sold 6,700 of his Hanoverians to the seigniory of Venice. 
They went bravely off to the Morea, under command of Ernest's son, 
Prince Max, and only 1,400 of them ever came home again. The 
German princes sold a good deal of this kind of stock. You may 
remember how George III.'s Government purchased Hessians, and 
the use we made of them during the War of Independence. 

The ducats Duke Ernest got for his soldiers he spent in a series 
of the most brilliant entertainments. Nevertheless, the jovial Prince 
was economical, and kept a steady eye upon his own interests. He 
achieved the electoral dignity for himself: he married his eldest 
son George to his beautiful cousin of Zell; and sending his sons 
out in command of armies to fight — now on this side, now on 
that — he lived on, taking his pleasure, and scheming his schemes, 
a mcny, wise prince enough, not, I fear, a moral prince, of which 
kind we shall have but very few specimens in the course of these 
lectures. 

Ernest Augustus had seven children in all, some of whom were 
scapegraces, and rebelled against the parental system of primo- 
geniture and non^iivision of property which the Elector ordained. 
" Gustchen," the Electress writes about her second son : — " Poor 
Gus is thrust out, and his father will give him no more keep. I 
laugh in the day, and cry all night about it ; for I am a fool with my 
diildren/' Three of the six died fighting against Turks, Tartars, 
Frenchmen. One of them conspired, revolted, fled to Rome, leaving 
an agent behind him, whose head was taken off. The daughter, of 
whose early education we have made mention, was married to the 
Elector of Brandenburg, and so her religion settled finally on the 
Protestant side. 

A niece of the Electress Sophia — who had been made to change 
her religion, and marry the Duke of Orleans, brother of the French 
King ; a woman whose honest heart was always with her friends and 
dear old Deutschland, though her fat little body was confined at 
Paris, or Marly, or Versailles — ^has left us, in her enormous corre- 
spondence (part of which has been printed in German and French), 



12 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

recollections of the Electress, and of George her son. Elizabeth 
Charlotte was at Osnaburg when George was bom (1660). She 
narrowly escaped a whipping for being in the way on that auspicious 
day. She seems not to have liked little George, nor George grown 
up ; and represents him as odiously hard, cold, and silent Silent 
he may have been : not a jolly prince like his father before him, 
but a prudent, quiet, selfish potentate, going his own way, 
managing his own affairs, and understanding his own interests 
remarkably well. 

In his father's lifetime, and at the head of the Hanover forces of 
8,000 or 10,000 men, George served the Emperor, on the Danube 
against Turks, at the siege of Vienna, in Italy, and on the Rhine. 
When he succeeded to the Electorate, he handled its affairs with 
great prudence and dexterity. He was very much liked by his 
people of Hanover. He did not show- his feelings much, but he 
cried heartily on leaving them ; as they used for joy when he came 
back. He showed an uncommon prudence and coolness of behaviour 
when he came into liis kingdom ; exhibiting no elation ; reasonably 
doubtful whether he should not be turned out some day \ looking 
upon himself only as a lodger, and making the most of his brief 
tenure of St. James's and Hampton Court; plundering, it is true, 
somewhat, and dividing amongst his German followers ; but what 
could be expected of a sovereign who at home could sell his subjects 
at so many ducats per head, and make no scruple in so disposing of 
them ? I fancy a considerable shrewdness, prudence, and even 
moderation in his ways. The German Protestant was a cheaper, 
and better, and kinder king than the Catholic Stuart in whose 
chair he sat, and so far loyal to England, that he let England govern 
herself. 

Having these lectures in view, I made it my business to visit that 
ugly cradle in which our Georges were nursed. The old town of 
Hanover must look still pretty much as in the time when George 
Louis left it. The gardens and pavilions of Herrenhausen are 
scarce changed since the day when the stout old Electress Sophia 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 13 

fell down in her last walk there, preceding but by a few weeks to the 
tomb James II.'s daughter, whose death made way for the Brunswick 
Stuarts in England. 

The two first royal Georges, and their father, Ernest Augustus, 
had quite royal notions regarding marriage; and Louis XIV. and 
Charles II. scarce distinguished themselves more at Versailles or 
St. James's, than these German sultans in their little city on the banks 
of the Leine. You may see at Herrenhausen the very rustic theatre 
in which the Platens danced and performed masques, and sang before 
the Elector and his sons. There are the very fauns and dryads of 
stone still glimmering through the branches, still grinning and piping 
their ditties of no tone, as in the days when painted nymphs hung 
garlands round them ; appeared under their leafy arcades with gilt 
crooks, guiding rams with gilt horns \ descended from " machines " 
in the guise of Diana or Minerva; and delivered immense 
allegorical compliments to the princes returned home from the 
campaign. 

That was a curious state of morals and politics in Europe ; a 
queer consequence of the triumph of the monarchical principle. 
Feudalism was beaten down. The nobility, in its quarrels with the 
crown, had pretty well succumbed, and the monarch was all in all. 
He became almost divine : the proudest and most ancient gentry of 
the land did menial service for him. Who should carry Louis XIV.'s 
candle when he went to bed ? what prince of the blood should hold 
the king's shirt when his Most Christian Majesty changed that 
garment ? — the French memoirs of the seventeenth century are full 
of such details and squabbles. The tradition is not yet extinct in 
Europe. Any of you who were present, as myriads were, at that 
splendid pageant, the opening of our Crystal Palace in I^ondon, 
must have seen two noble lords, great officers of the household, with 
ancient pedigrees, with embroidered coats, and stars on their breasts 
and wands in their hands, walking backwards for near the space of a 
mile, while the royal procession made its progress. Shall we wonder 

ihall we be angry — shall we laugh at these old-world ceremonies ? 



14 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

View them as you will, according to your mood ; and with scorn or 
with respect, or with anger and sorrow, as your temper leads you. 
Up goes Gesler*s hat upon the pole. Salute that symbol of sovereignty 
^vith heartfelt awe ; or with a sulky shrug of acquiescence, or with a 
grinning obeisance ; or with a stout rebellious No — clap your own 
beaver down on your pate, and refuse to doff it to that spangled 
velvet and flaunting feather. I make nd comment upon the 
spectators' behaviour; all I say is, that Gesler's cap is stiU up 
in the market-place of Europe, and not a few folks are still kneeling 
to it. 

Put clumsy, high Dutch statues in place of the marbles oC 
Versailles: fancy Herrenhausen waterworks in place of those of 
Marly: spread the tables with Schweinskopf, Specksuppe, Leber- 
kuchen, and the like delicacies, in place of the French cuisine; and 
fancy Frau von Kielmansegge dancing with Count Kammerjunker 
Quirini, or singing French songs with the most awful German accent: 
imagine a coarse Versailles, and we have a Hanover before us. 
" I am now got into the region of beauty," writes Mary Wortiey, 
from Hanover in 1 716; "all the women have literally rosy cheeks, 
snowy foreheads and necks, jet eye-brows, to which may generally be 
added coal-black hair. These perfections never leave them to the 
day of their death, and have a very fine effect by candle-light ; but I 
could wish they were handsome with a little variety. They resemble 
one another as Mrs. Salmon's Court of Great Britain, and are in as 
much danger of melting away by too nearly approaching the fire." 
The sly Mary Wortiey saw this painted seraglio of the first George at 
Hanover, the year after his accession to the British throne. There 
were great doings and feasts there. Here Lady Mary saw George II. 
too. " I can tell you, without flattery or partiality," she says, '* that 
our young prince has all the accomplishments that it is possible to 
have at his age, with an air of sprightliness and imderstanding, and 
a something so very engaging in his behaviour that needs not the 
advantage of his rank to appear charming." I find elsewhere similar 
panegyrics upon Frederick Prince of Wales, Geoige IL's son ; and 



GEORGE THE FIRST, 15 

upon Geoige III., of course, and upon George IV. in an eminent 
degree. It was the rule to be dazzled by princes, and people's eyes 
winked quite honestly at that royal radiance. 

The Electoral Court of Hanover was numerous — ^pretty well paid, 
as times went ; above all, paid with a regularity which few other 
European courts could boast of. Perhaps you will be amused to 
know how the Electoral Court was composed. There were the 
princes of the house in the first class ; in the second, the single 
field-marshal of the army (the contingent was 18,000, Pollnitz says, 
and the Elector had other 14,000 troops in his pay). Then follow, 
in due order, the authorities civil and military, the working privy 
councillors, the generals of cavalry and infantry, in the third class ; 
the high chamberlain, high marshals of the court, high masters of 
the horse, the major-generals of cavalry and infantry, in the fourth 
class ; down to the majors, the hofjunkers or pages, the secretaries 
or assessors, of the tenth class, of whom all were noble. 

We find the master of the horse had 1,090 thalers of pay; the 
high chamberlain, 2,000 — a thaler being about three shillings of 
our money. There were two chamberlains, and one for the Princess ; 
five gentlemen of the chamber, and five gentlemen ushers ; eleven 
pages and personages to educate these young noblemen — such as a 
governor, a preceptor, a fecht-meister, or fencing master, and a 
dancing ditto, this latter with a handsome salary of 400 thalers. 
There were three body and court physicians, with 800 and 500 
thalers; a court barber, 600 thalers ; a court organist; two musikanten ; 
four French fiddlers ; twelve trumpeters, and a bugler ; so that there 
was plenty of music, profane and pious, in Hanover. There were 
ten chamber waiters, and twenty-four lacqueys in livery ; a maitre- 
d'hotel, and attendants of the kitchen ; a French cook ; a body cook ; 
ten cooks ; six cooks' assistants ; two Braten masters, or masters of 
the roast — (one fancies enormous spits turning slowly, and the 
honest masters of the roast beladling the dripping) ; a pastry-baker ; 
a pie-baker ; and finally, three scullions, at the modest remuneration 
of eleven thalers. In the sugar-chamber there were four pastrycooks 



1 6 THE FOUR GEORGES. 



(for the ladies, no doubt) ; seven officers in the wine and beer cellars ; 
four bread-bakers ; and five men in the plate-room. There were 600 
horses in the Serene stables — no less than twenty teams of princely 
carriage horses, eight to a team ; sixteen coachmen ; fourteen 
postilions ; nineteen ostlers j thirteen helps, besides smidis, carriage- 
masters, horse-doctors, and other attendants of the stable. The 
female attendants were not so numerous : I grieve to find but a 
dozen or fourteen of them about the Electoral premises, and only 
two washerwomen for all the Court These functionaries had not so 
much to do as in the present age. I own to finding a pleasure in 
these small-beer chronicles. I like to people the old world, with its 
e very-day figures and inhabitants — ^not so much with heroes fighting 
immense battles and inspiring repulsed battalions to engage; or 
statesmen locked up in darkling cabinets and meditating ponderous 
laws or dire conspiracies — as with people occupied with their every- 
day work or pleasure : my lord and lady hunting in the forest, or 
dancing in the Court,. or bowing to their Serene Highnesses as they 
pass in to dinner j John Cook and his procession bringing the meal 
from the kitchen ; the jolly butlers bearing in the flagons from the 
cellar ; the stout coachman driving the ponderous gilt waggon, with 
eight cream-coloured horses in housings of scarlet velvet and 
morocco leather ; a postilion on the leaders, and a pair or a half- 
dozen of running footmen scudding along by the side of the vehicle, 
with conical caps, long silver-headed maces, which they poised as 
they ran, and splendid jackets laced all over with silver and gold. 
I fancy the citizens* wives and their daughters looking out firom 
the balconies ; and the burghers over their beer and mumm, rising 
up, cap in hand, as the cavalcade passes through the town with 
torch-bearers, trumpeters blowing their lusty cheeks out, and 
squadrons of jack-booted lifeguardsmen, girt with shining cuirasses, 
and bestriding thundering chargers, escorting his Highness's coach 
from Hanover to Herrenhausen ; or halting, mayhap, at Madame 
Platen's country house of Monplaisir, which lies half-way between 
the summer-palace and the Residenz. 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 17 

In the good old times of which I am treating, whilst common 
men were driven off by herds, and sold to fight the Emperor's 
enemies on the Danube, or to bayonet King Louis's troops of 
common men on the Rhine, noblemen passed from court to court, 
seeking service with one prince or the other, and naturally taking 
command of the ignoble vulgar of soldiery which battled and died 
almost without hope of promotion. Noble adventurers travelled 
from court to court in search of employment ; not merely noble 
males, but noble females too ; and if these latter were beauties, and 
obtained the favourable notice of princes, they stopped in the courts, 
became the favourites of their Serene or Royal Highnesses ; and 
received great sums of money and splendid diamonds ; and were 
promoted to be duchesses, marchionesses, and the like ; and did not 
fall much in public esteem for the manner in which they won their 
advancement. In this way Mdlle. de Querouailles, a beautiful 
French lady, came to London on a special mission of Louis XIV., 
and was adopted by our grateful country and sovereign, and figured 
as Duchess of Portsmouth. In this way the beautiful Aurora of 
Konigsmarck travelling about found favour in the eyes of Augustus 
of Saxony, and became the mother of Marshal Saxe, who gave 
us a beating at Fontenoy; and in this manner the lovely sisters 
Elizabeth and Melusina of Meissenbach (who had actually been 
driven out of Paris, whither they had travelled on a like errand, 
by the wise jealousy of the female favourite there in possession) 
journeyed to Hanover, and became favourites of the serene house 
there reigning. 

. t^That beautiful Aurora von Konigsmarck and her brother are 
wonderful as types of bygone manners, and strange illustrations of 
the morals of old days. The Konigsmarcks were descended from an 
ancient noble family of Brandenburg, a branch of which passed into 
Sweden, where it enriched itself and produced several mighty men 
of valour. 

The founder of the race was Hans Christof, a famous warrior and 
plunderer of the Thirty Years' war. One of Hans' sons, Otto, ap- 

2 



1 8 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

peared as ambassador at the court of Louis 'XIV., and bad to make 
a Swedish speech at his reception before the Most Christian King. 
Otto was a famous dandy and warrior, but he forgot the speech, and 
what do you think he did ? Far from being disconcerted, he recited a 
portion of the Swedish Catechism to his Most Christian Majesty and 
his court, not one of whom understood his lingo with the exception 
of his own suite, who had to keep their gravity as best they might 

Otto's nephew, Aurora's elder brother, Carl Johann of Konigs- 
marck, a favourite of Charles II., a beauty, a dandy, a warrior, a 
rascal of more than ordinary mark, escaped but deserved being 
hanged in England, for the murder of Tom Thynne of Longleat 
He had a little brother in London with him at this time : — as great a 
beauty, as great a dandy, as great a villain as his elder. This lad, 
Philip of Konigsmarck, also was implicated in the affair ; and 
perhaps it is a pity he ever brought his pretty neck out of it. He 
went over to Hanover, and was soon appointed colonel of a regiment 
of H. E. Highnesses dragoons. In early life he had been page in the 
court of Celle ; and it was said that he and the pretty Princess Sophia 
Dorothea, who by this time was married to her cousin George the 
Electoral Prince, had been in love with each other as children. 
Their loves were now to be renewed, not innocently, and to come to 
a fearful end. 

A biography of the wife of George I., by Dr. Doran, has lately 
appeared, and I confess I am astounded at the verdict which that 
writer has delivered, and at his acquittal of this most unfortunate 
lady. That she had a cold selfish libertine of a husband no one can 
doubt ; but that the bad husband had a bad wife is equally clear. 
She was married to her cousin for money or convenience; as all 
princesses were married. She was most beautiful, lively, witty, 
accomplished : his brutality outraged her : his silence and coldness 
chilled her : his cruelty insulted her. No wonder she did not love 
him. How could love be a part of the compact in such a marriage 
as that ? With this unlucky heart to dispose of, the poor creature 
bestowed it on Philip of Konigsmarck, than whom a greater scamp 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 19 

does not walk the history of the seventeenth century. A hundred and 
eighty years after the fellow was thrust into his unknown grave, 
a Swedish professor lights upon a box of letters in the University 
Library at Upsala, written by Philip and Dorothea to each other, and 
telling their miserable story. 

The bewitching Konigsmarck had conquered two female hearts 
in Hanover. Besides the Electoral Prince's lovely young wife Sophia 
Dorothea, Philip had inspired a passion in a hideous old court lady, 
the Countess of Platen. The Princess seems to have pursued him 
with the fidelity of many years. Heaps of letters followed him on 
his campaigns, and were answered by the daring adventurer. The 
Princess wanted to fly with him; to quft her odious husband at 
any rate. She besought her parents to receive her back ; had a 
notion of taking refuge in France and going over to the Catholic 
religion; had absolutely packed her jewels for flight, and very 
likely arranged its details with her lover, in that last long 
night's interview, after which Philip of Konisgmarck was seen no 
more. 

Konigsmarck, inflamed with drink — there is scarcely any vice of 
which, according to his own showing, this gendeman was not a 
practitioner — ^had boasted at a supper at Dresden of his intimacy 
with the two Hanoverian ladies, not only with the Princess, but with 
another lady powerful in Hanover. The Countess Platen, the old 
fevourite of the Elector, hated the young Electoral Princess. The 
young lady had a lively wit, and constantly made fun of the old one. 
The Princess's jokes were conveyed to the old Platen just as our idle 
words are carried about at this present day: and so they both hated 
each other. 

The characters in the tragedy, of which the curtain was now 
about to fall, are about as daik a set as eye ever rested on. -There 
is the jolly Prince, shrewd, selfish, scheming, loving his cups and his 
ease (I think his good-humour makes the tragedy but darker) ; his 
Princess, who speaks little but observes all ; his old painted Jezebel 
of a mistress; his son, the Electoral Prince, shrewd too, quiet. 



20 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

selfish, not ill-humoured, and generally silent, except when goaded 
into fury by the intolerable tongue of his lovely wife ; there is poor 
Sophia Dorothea, with her coquetry and her wrongs, and her 
passionate attachment to her scamp of a lover, and her wild impru- 
dences, and her mad artifices, and her insane fidelity, and her furious 
jealousy regarding her husband (though she loathed and cheated 
him), and her prodigious falsehoods ; and the confidante, of course, 
into whose hands the letters are slipped; and there is Lothario, 
finally, than whom, as I have said, one can't imagine a more 
handsome, wicked, worthless reprobate. 

How that perverse fidehty of passion pursues the villain ! How 
madly true the woman is, and how astoundingly she lies ! She has 
bewitched two or three persons who have taken her up, and they 
won't believe in her wrong. Like Mary of Scotland, she finds" 
adherents ready to conspire for her even in history, and people who 
have to deal with her are charmed, and fascinated, and bedevilled. 
How devotedly Miss Strickland has stood by Mary's innocence ! 
Are there not scores of ladies in this audience who persist in it too ? 
Innocent ! I remember as a boy how a great party persisted in 
declaring Caroline of Brunswick was a martyred angel. So was 
Helen of Greece innocent She never ran away with Paris, the 
dangerous young Trojan. Menelaus, her husband, illused her ; and 
there never was any siege of Troy at all. So was Bluebeard's wife 
innocent. She never peeped into the closet where the other wives 
were with their heads off. She never dropped the key, or stained it 
with blood ; and her brothers were quite right in finishing Bluebeard, 
the cowardly brute ! Yes, Caroline of Brunswick was innocent ; 
and Madame Laffarge never poisoned her husband; and Mary of 
Scotland never blew up hers ; and poor Sophia Dorothea was never 
unfaithful; and Eve never took the apple — ^it was a cowardly 
fabrication of the serpent's. 

George Louis has been held up to execration as a murderous 
Bluebeard, whereas the Electoral Prince had no share in the trans- 
action in which Philip of Konigsmarck was scuffled out of this mortal 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 21 

scene. The Prince was absent when the catastrophe came. The 
Princess had had a hundred warnings ; mild hints from her husband's 
parents ; grim remonstrances from himself— but took no more heed 
of this advice than such besotted poor wretches do. On the night 
of Sunday, the ist of July, 1694, Konigsmarck paid a long visit to 
the Princess, and left her to get ready for flight. Her husband was 
away at Berlin ; her carriages and horses were prepared and ready 
for the elopement. Meanwhile, the spies of Countess Platen had 
brought the news to their mistress. She went to Ernest Augustus, 
and procured from the Elector an order for the arrest of the Swede. 
On the way by which he was to come, four guards were commis- 
sioned to take him. He strove to cut his way through the four men, 
and wounded more than one of them. They fell upon him ; cut him 
down ; and, as he was lying wounded on the ground, the Countess^ 
his enemy, whom he had betrayed and insulted, came out and beheld 
him prostrate. He cursed her with his dying lips, and the furious 
woman stamped upon his mouth with her heel. He was despatched 
presently ; his body burnt the next day ; and all traces of the man 
disappeared. The guards who killed him were enjoined silence 
under severe penalties. The Princess was reported to be ill in her 
apartments, from which she was taken in October of the same year, 
being then eight-and-twenty years old, and consigned to the castle 
of Ahlden, where she remained a prisoner for no less than thirty- two 
years. A separation had been pronounced previously between her 
and her husband. She was called henceforth the "Princess of 
Ahlden," and her silent husband no more uttered her name. 

Four years after the Konigsmarck catastrophe, Ernest Augustus, 
the first Elector of Hanover, died, and George Louis, his son,, 
reigned in his stead. Sixteen years he reigned in Hanover, after 
which he became, as we know. King of Great Britain, France, and 
Ireland, Defender of the Faith. The wicked old Countess Platen 
died in the year 1706. She had lost her sight, but nevertheless the 
legend says that she constantly saw Konigsmarck's ghost by her 
wicked old bed. And so there was an end of her. 



22 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

In the year 1700, the little Duke of Gloucester, Ibe last of poor 
Queen Anne's children, died, and the folks of Hanover straightway 
became of prodigious importance in England. The Electress Sophia 
was declared the next ill succession to the English throne. George 
Louis was created Duke of Cambridge ; grand deputations were sent 
over from our country to Deutschland ; but Queen Anne, whose 
weak heart hankered after her relatives at St. Germains, never could 
be got to allow her cousin, the Elector Duke of Cambridge, to come 
and pay his respects to her Majesty, and take his seat in her House 
of Peers. Had the Queen lasted a month longer ; had the English 
Tories been as bold and resolute as they were clever and crafty; 
had the Prince whom the nation loved and pitied been equal to his 
fortune, George Louis had never talked German in St. James's 
Chapel Royal. 

When the crown did come to George Louis he was in no hurry 
about putting it on. He waited at home for awhile; took an 
affecting farewell of his dear Hanover and Herrenhausen ; and set 
out in the most leisurely manner to ascend " the throne of his 
ancestors," as he called it in his first speech to Parliament. He 
brought "vvith him a compact body of Germans, whose society he 
loved, and whom he kept round the royal person. He had his 
faithful German chamberlains ; his German secretaries ; his negroes, 
captives of his bow and spear in Turkish wars ; his two ugly, elderly 
German favourites, Mesdames of Kielmansegge and Schulenberg, 
whom he created respectively Countess of Darlington and Duchess 
of Kendal. The Duchess was tall, and lean of stature, and hence 
was irreverently nicknamed the Maypole. The Countess was a 
large-sized noblewoman, and this elevated personage was denomi- 
nated the Elephant Both of these ladies loved Hanover and its 
delights ; clung round the linden-trees of the great Herrenhausen 
avenue, and at first would not quit the place. Schulenberg, in fact, 
could not come on account of her debts ; but finding the Maypole 
would not come, the Elephant packed up her trunk and slipped out 
of Hanover, unwieldy as she was. On this the Maypole straightway 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 23 

put heiself in motion, and followed her beloved George Louis. One 
seems to be speaking of Captain Macheath, and Polly, and Lucy. 
The king we had selected j the courtiers who came in his train j the 
English nobles who came to welcome him, and on many of whom 
the shrewd old cynic turned his back — I protest it is a wonderful 
satirical picture. I am a citizen waiting at Greenwich pier, say, and 
crying hurrah for King George; and yet I can scarcely keep my 
countenance, and help laughing at the enormous absurdity of this 
advent ! 

Here we are, all on our knees. Here is the Archbishop of 
Canterbury prostrating himself to the head of his church, with Kiel- 
mansegge and Schulenberg with their ruddled cheeks grinning 
behind the defender of the faith. Here is my Lord Duke of 
Marlborough kneeling too, the greatest warrior of all times; he who 
betrayed King William — ^betrayed King James II. — ^betrayed Queen 
Anne — betrayed England to the French, the Elector to the Pret'^nder, 
the Pretender to the Elector ; and here are my Lords Oxford and 
Bolingbroke, the latter of whom has just tripped up the heels of the 
former ; and if a month's more time had been allowed him, would 
have had King James at Westminster. The great \Vhig gentlemen 
made their bows and cong(fes with proper decorum and ceremony ; 
but yonder keen old schemer knows the value of their loyalty. 
" Loyalty," he must think, " as applied to me — it is absurd ! There 
are fifty nearer heirs to the throne than I am. I am but an accident, 
and you fine Whig gentlemen take me for your own sake, not for 
mine. You Tories hate me; you archbishop, smirking on your 
knees, and prating about Heaven, you know I don't care a fig for 
your Thirty-nine Articles, and can't understand a word of your 
stupid sermons. You, my Lords Bolingbroke and Oxford — ^you 
know you were conspiring against me a month ago ; and you, my 
Lord Duke of Marlborough — you would sell me or any man else, 
if you found your advantage in it Come, my good Melusina, come, 
my honest Sophia, let us go into my private room, and have some 
oysters and some Rhine wine, and some pipes afterwards : let us 



24 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

make the best of our situation ; let us take what we can get, and 
leave these bawling, brawling, lying English to shout, and fight, and 
cheat, in their own way ! " 

If Swift had not been committed to the statesmen of the losing 
side, what a fine satirical picture we might have had of that general 
sauve qui pent amongst the Tory party ! How mum the Tories 
became \ how the House of Lords and House of Commons chopped 
round ; and how decorously the majorities welcomed King George ! 

Bolingbroke, making his last speech in the House of Lords, 
pointed out the shame of the peerage, where several lords concurred 
to condemn in one general vote all that they had approved in former 
parliaments by many particular resolutions. And so their conduct 
was shameful. St John had the best of the argument, but the worst 
of the vote. Bad times were come for him. He talked philosophy, 
and professed innocence. He courted retirement, and was ready to 
meet persecution ; but, hearing that honest Mat Prior, who had been 
recalled from Paris, was about to peach regarding the past trans- 
actions, the philosopher bolted, and took that magnificent head of 
his out of the ugly reach of the axe. Oxford, the lazy and good- 
humoured, had more courage, and awaited the storm at home. He 
and Mat Prior both had lodgings in the Tower, and both brought 
their heads safe out of that dangerous menagerie. When Atterbury 
was carried off to the same den a few years afterwards, and it was 
asked, what next should be done with him ? " Done with him ? 
Fling him to the lions," Cadogan said, Marlborough's lieutenant 
But the British lion of those days did not care much for drinking the 
blood of peaceful peers and poets, or crunching the bones of bishops. 
Only four men were executed in London for the rebellion of 17 15 ; 
and twenty-two in Lancashire. Above a thousand taken in arms, 
submitted to the King's mercy, and petitioned to be transported to 
his Majesty's colonies in America. I have heard that their descen- 
dants took the loyalist side in the disputes which arose sixty years 
after. It is pleasant to find that a friend of ours, worthy Dick 
Steele, was for letting off the rebels with their lives. 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 25 

As one thinks of what might have been, how amusing the specu- 
lation is ! We know how the doomed Scottish gentlemen came out • 
at Lord Mar's smnmons, mounted the white cockade, that has been 
a flower of sad poetry ever since, and rallied round the ill-omened 
Stuart standard at Braemar. Mar, with 8,000 men, and but 1,500 
opposed to him, might have driven the enemy over the Tweed, and 
taken possession of the whole of Scotland j but that the Pretender's 
Duke did not venture to move when the day was his own. Edinburgh 
Castle might have been in King James's hands ; but that the men 
who were to escalade it stayed to drink his health at the tavern, and 
arrived two hours too late at the rendezvous under the castle wall. 
Theie was sympathy enough in the town — ^the projected attack seems 
to have been known there — Lord Mahon quotes Sinclair's account of 
a gentleman not concerned, who told Sinclair, that he was in a house 
that evening where eighteen of them were drinking, as the facetious 
landlady said, " powdering theu: hair," for the attack on the castle. 
Suppose they had not stopped to powder their hair? Edinburgh 
Castle, and town, and all Scotland were King James's. The north 
of pjjgland rises, and marches over Bamet Heath upon I^ondon. 
Wyndham is up in Somersetshire ; Packington in Worcestershire ; and 
Vivian in Cornwall. The Elector of Hanover, and his hideous 
mistresses, pack up the plate, and perhaps the crown jewels in 
London, and are off vid Harwich and Helvoetsluys, for dear old 
Deutschland. The King — God save him ! — lands at Dover, Avith 
tumultuous applause ; shouting multitudes, roaring cannon, the Duke 
of Marlborough weeping tears of joy, and all the bishops kneeling in 
the mud. In a few years, mass is said in St. Paul's ; matins and 
vespers are sung in York Minster; and Dr. Swift is turned out 
of his stall and deanery house at St. Patrick's, to give place to 
Father Dominic, from Salamanca. All these changes were pos- 
sible then, and once thirty years afterwards — all this we might 
have had, but for the pulveris exigui jacfUy that little toss of powder 
for the hair which the Scotch conspirators stopped to take at the 
tavern. 



26 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

You understand the distinction I would draw between history — 
of which I do not aspire to be an expounder — ^and manners and life 
such as these sketches would describe. The rebellion breaks out in 
the north ; its story is before you in a hundred volumes, in none 
more fairly than in the excellent narrative of Lord Mahon. The 
clans are up in Scotland ; Derwentwater, Nithsdale and Forster are 
in arms in Northumberland — these are matter's of history, for which 
you are referred to the due chroniclers. The Guards are set to 
watch the streets, and prevent the people wearing white roses. I 
read presently of a couple of soldiers almost flogged to death for 
wearing oakboughs in their hats on the 29th of May — another badge 
of the beloved Stuarts. It is with these we have to do, rather ^han 
tlie marches and battles of the armies to which the poor fellows 
belonged — ^with statesmen, and how they looked, and how they 
lived, rather than with measures of State, which belong to history 
alone. For example, at the close of the old Queen's reign, it is 
known the Duke of Marlborough left the kingdom — after what 
menaces, after what prayers, lies, bribes offered, taken, refused, 
accepted ; after what dark doubling and tacking, let history, if she 
can or dare, say. The Queen dead ; who so eager to return as my 
lord duke ? Who shouts God save the King ! so lustily as the great 
conqueror of Blenheim and Malplaquet ? (By the way, he will send 
over some more money for the Pretender yet, on the sly.) Who lays 
his hand on his blue ribbon, and lifts his eyes more gracefully to 
heaven than this hero ? He makes a quasi-triumphal entrance into 
London, by Temple Bar, in his enormous gilt coach— and the 
enormous gilt coach breaks down somewhere by Chancery Lane, 
and his highness is obliged to get another. There it is we have him. 
We are with the mob in the crowd, not with the great folks in the 
procession. We are not the Historic Muse, but her ladyship's 
attendant, tale-bearer — valet de diambre — for whom no man is a hero \ 
and, as yonder one steps from his carriage to the next handy con- 
veyance, we take the number of the hack ; we look all over at his 
stars, ribbons, embroidery ; we think within ourselves, O you 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 27 

unfathomable schemer ! O you warrior invincible ! O you beautiful 
smiling Judas ! What master would you not kiss or betray ? AVhat 
traitor's head, blackening on the spikes on yonder gate, ever hatched 
a tithe of tlie treason which has worked under your periwig ? 

We have brought our Georges to London city, and if we would 
behold its aspect, may see it in Hogarth's lively perspective of Cheap- 
side, or read of it in a hundred contemporary books which paint the 
manners of that age. Our dear old Spectator looks smiling upon 
the streets, with their innumerable signs, and describes them with his 
charming humour. " Our streets are filled with Blue Boars, Black 
Swans, and Red Lions, not to mention Flying Pigs and Hogs in 
Armour, with other creatures more extraordinary than any in the 
deserts of Africa." A few of these quaint old figures still remain in 
London town. You may still see there, and over its old hostel in 
Ludgate Hill, the "Belle Sauvage" to whom the Spectator so 
pleasantly alludes in that paper ; and who was, probably, no other 
than the sweet American Pocahontas, who rescued from death the 
daring Captain Smith. There is the "Lion s Head," down whose jaws 

■ 

the Spectator's own letters were passed ; and over a great banker's 
in Fleet Street, the effigy of the wallet, which the founder of the firm 
bore when he came into London a country boy. People this street, 
so ornamented, with crowds of swinging chairmen, with servants 
bawling to clear the way, with Mr. Dean in his cassock, his lacquey 
marching before him ; or Mrs. Dinah in her sack, tripping to chapel, 
her footboy carrying her ladyship's great prayer-book ; with itinerant 
tradesmen, singing their hundred cries (I remember forty years ago, as 
boy in London city, a score of cheery, familiar cries that are silent 
now). Fancy the beaux thronging to the chocolate-houses, tapping 
their snuff-boxes as they issue thence, their periwigs appearing over 
the red curtains. Fancy Saccharissa, beckoning and smiling from 
the upper windows, and a crowd of soldiers brawling and bustling at 
the door — ^gentlemen of the Life Guards, clad in scarlet, with blue 
facings, and laced with gold at the seams ; gentlemen of the Horse 
Grenadiers, in their caps of sky-blue cloth, with the garter embroidered 



28 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

on the front in gold and silver ; men of the Halberdiers, in their long 
red coats, as bluff Harry left them, with their ruff and velvet flat 
caps. Perhaps the King's Majesty himself is going to St James's as 
we pass. If he is going to Parliament, he is in his coach-and-eight, 
surrounded by his guards and the high officers of his crown. Other- 
wise his Majesty only uses a chair, with six footmen walking before, 
and six yeomen of the guard at the sides of the sedan. The 
officers in waiting follow the King in coaches. It must be rather 
slow work. 

Our Spectator and Tatler are full of delightful glimpses of the 
town life of those days. In the company of that charming guide, we 
may go to the opera, the comedy, the puppet-show, the auction, even 
the cockpit : we can take boat at Temple Stairs, and accompany 
Sir Roger de Coverley and Mr. Spectator to Spring Garden — it will 
be called Vauxhall a few years hence, when Hogarth will paint for it. 
Would you not like to step back into the past, and be introduced to 
Mr. Addison? — not the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq., 
George I.'s Secretary of State, but to the delightful painter of contem- 
porary manners ; the man who, when in good-humour himself, was 
the pleasantest companion in all England. I should like to go into 
Lockit's with him, and drink a bowl along with Sir R. Steele (who 
has just been knighted by King George, and who does not happen to 
have any money to pay his share of the reckoning). I should not 
care to follow Mr. Addison to his secretary's office in Whitehall. 
There we get into politics. Our business is pleasure, and the town, 
and the coffee-house, and the theatre,- and the Mall. Delightful 
Spectator ! kind friend of leisure hours ! happy companion ! true 
Christian gentleman ! How much greater, better, you are than the 
King Mr. Secretary kneels to ! 

You can have foreign testimony about old-world London, if you 
like ; and my before-quoted friend, Charles Louis, Baron de Pollnitz, 
will conduct us to it. " A man of sense," says he, " or a fine gentle- 
man, is never at a loss for company in London, and this is the way 
the latter passes his time. He rises late, puts on a frock, and, 



GEORGE THE FIRST, 29 

leaving his sword at home, takes his cane, and goes where he pleases. 
The park is commonly the place where he walks, because 'tis the 
Exchange for men of quality. Tis the same thing as the Tuileries at 
Paris, only the park has a certain beauty of simplicity which cannot 
be described. The grand walk is called the Mall ; is full of people 
at every hour of the day, but especially at morning and evening, when 
their Majesties often walk with the royal family, who are attended 
only by a half-dozen yeomen of the guard, and permit all persons to 
walk at the same time with them. The ladies and gentlemen always 
appear in rich dresses, for the English, who, twenty years ago, did 
not wear gold lace but in their army, are now embroidered and 
bedaubed as much as the French. I speak of persons of quality ; for 
the citizen still contents himself with a suit of fine cloth, a good Kat 
and wig, and fine linen. Everybody is well clothed here, and even 
the beggars don't make so ragged an appearance as they do else- 
where." After our friend, the man of quality, has had his morning or 
undress walk in the Mall, he goes home to dress, and then saunters 
to some coffee-house or chocolate-house fi-equented by the persons he 
would see. " For 'tis a rule with the English to go once a day at 
least to houses of this sort, where they talk of business and news, read 
the papers, and often look at one another without opening their lips. 
And 'tis very well they are so mute : for were they all as talkative as 
people of other nations, the coffee-houses would be intolerable, and 
there would be no hearing what one man said where they are so 
many. The chocolate-house in St. James's Street, where I go every 
morning to pass away the time, is always so full that a man can scarce 
turn about in it" 

Delightful as London city was. King George I. liked to be out of 
it as much as ever he could ; and when there, passed all his time with 
his Germans. It was ^ith them as with Blucher, 100 years after- 
wards, when the bold old Reiter looked down from St. Paul's, and 
sighed out, " Was fur Plunder ! " The German women plundered ; 
the German secretaries plundered ; the German cooks and intendants 
plundered ; even Mustapha and Mahomet, the German negroes, had 



30 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

a share of the booty. Take what you can get, was the old monarch's 
maxim. He was not a lofty monarch, certainly : he was not a patron 
of the fine arts : but he was not a hypocrite, he was not revengeful, 
he was not extravagant Though a despot in Hanover, he was a 
moderate ruler in England. His aim was to leave it to itself as much 
as possible, and to live out of it as much as he could. His heart was 
in Hanover. When taken ill on his last journey, as he was passing 
through Holland, he thrust his livid head out of the coach-window, 
and gasped out, " Osnabui^, Osnaburg ! " He was more than fifty 
years of age when he came amongst us : we took him because we 
wanted him, because he served our turn ; we laughed at his uncouth 
German ways, and sneered at him. He took our loyalty for what it 
was worth ; laid hands on what money he could ; kept us assuredly 
from Popery and wooden shoes. I, for one, would have been on his 
side in those days. Cynical, and selfish, as he was, he was better 
than a king out of St Germains with the French King's orders in his 
pocket, and a swarm of Jesuits in his train. 

The Fates are supposed to interest themselves about royal 
personages j and so this one had omens and prophecies specially 
regarding him. He was said to be much disturbed at a prophecy 
that he should die very soon after his wife ; and sure enough, pallid 
Death, having seized upon the luckless Princess in her castle of 
Ahlden, presently pounced upon H. M. King George I., in his 
travelling chariot, on the Hanover road. AVhat postilion can outride 
that pale horseman? It is said, George promised one of his left- 
handed widows to come to her after death, if leave were granted to 
him to revisit the glimpses of the moon ; and soon after his demise, a 
great raven actually flying or hopping in at the Duchess of KendaVs 
window at Twickenham, she chose to imagine the king's spirit 
inhabited these plumes, and took special care of her sable visitor. 
Affecting metempsychosis — fiinereal royal bird ! How pathetic is the 
idea of the Duchess weeping over it ! When this chaste addition to 
our English aristocracy died, all her jewels, her plate, her plunder 
went over to her relations in Hanover. I wonder whether her 



GEORGE THE FIRST. 31 

heirs took the bird, and whether it is still flapping its wings over 
Herrenhausen ? 

The days are over in England of that strange religion of king- 
worship, when priests flattered princes in the Temple of God ; when 
servility was held to be ennobling duty; when beauty and youth 
tried eagerly for royal favour ; and woman's shame was held to be no 
dishonour. Mended morals and mended manners in courts and 
people, are among the priceless consequences of the freedom which 
George I. came to rescue and secure. He kept his compact with his 
English subjects ; and if he escaped no more than other men and 
monarchs from the vices of his age, at least we may thank him for 
preserving and transmitting the liberties of ours. In our free air, 
royal and humble homes have alike been purified ; and Truth, the 
birthright of high and low among us, which quite fearlessly judges 
our greatest personages, can only speak of them now in words of 
respect and regard. There are stains in the portrait of the first 
George, and traits in it which none of us need admire ; but, among 
the nobler features, are justice, courage, moderation- — and these we 
may recognize ere we turn the picture to the wall. 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 



N the afternoon of 
the 14th of June, 
1737, two horsemen 
might have been 
perceived galloping 
along the road from 
Chelsea to Rich- 
mond. The fore- 
roost, cased in the 
jackboots of the 
period, was a broad- 
faced, jolly-looking, 
and very corpulent 
cavalier ; but, by the 
manner in which he urged his horse, you might see that he was 
a bold as well as a skilful rider. Indeed, no man loved sport 
better ; and in the hunting-fields of Norfolk, no squire rode more 
boldly ailer the fox, or cheered Ringwood and Sweettips more lustily, 
than he who now thundered over the Richmond road. 

He speedily reached Richmond Lodge, and asked to see the 
owner of the mansion. The mistress of the house and her ladies, to 
whom our friend was admitted, said he could not be introduced to 
the master, however pressing the business might be. The master was 
asleep after his dinner; he always slept after his dinner : and woe be 
to the person who interrupted hiro I Nevertheless, our stout friend 




36 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

of the jackboots put the affrighted ladies aside, opened the forbidden 
door of the bedroom, wherein upon the bed lay a little gentleman ; 
and here the eager messenger knelt down in his jackboots. 

He on the bed started up, and with many oaths and a strong 
German accent asked who was there, and who dared to disturb him ? 

" I am Sir Robert Walpole," said the messenger. The awakened 
sleeper hated Sir Robert Walpole. " I have the honour to announce 
to your Majesty that your royal father, King George I., died at 
Osnaburg, on Saturday last, the loth inst" 

^^ Dot is one big //>/" roared out his sacred Majesty King 
George II. : but Sir Robert Walpole stated the fact, and from that 
day until three and thirty years after, George, the second of the name, 
ruled over England. 

How the King made away with his father's will under the astonished 
nose of the Archbishop of Canterbury ; how he was a choleric little 
sovereign ; how he shook his fist in the face of his father's courtiers ; 
how he kicked his coat and wig about in his rages, and called every- 
body thief, liar, rascal, with whom he differed : you will read in all the 
history books \ and how he speedily and shrewdly reconciled himself 
with the bold minister, whom he had hated during his father's life, 
and by whom he was served during fifteen years of his own with 
admirable prudence, fidelity, and success. But for Sir Robert Walpole, 
we should have had the Pretender back again. But for his obstinate 
love of peace, we should have had wars, which the nation was not 
strong enough nor united enough to endure. But for his resolute 
coufisels and good-humoured resistance we might have had German 
despots attempting a Hanoverian regimen over us : we should have 
had revolt, commotion, want, and tyrannous misrule, in place of a 
quarter of a centiuy of peace, fireedom, and material prosperity, such 
as the country never enjoyed, until that corrupter of parliaments, that 
dissolute tipsy cynic, that courageous lover of peace and liberty, that 
great citizen, patriot, and statesman governed it. In religion he was 
little better than a heathen; cracked ribald jokes at bigwigs and 
bishops, and laughed at High Church and Low. In private life the 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 39 

old pagan revelled in the lowest pleasures : he passed his Sundays 
tippling at Richmond; and his holydays bawling after dogs, or 
boozing at Houghton with boors over beef and punch. He cared 
for letters no more than his master did : lie judged human nature so 
meanly that one is ashamed to have to own that he was right, and 
that men could be corrupted by means so base. But, with his hireling 
House of Commons, he defended liberty for us ; with his incredulity 
he kept Church-craft down. There were parsons at Oxford as double- 
dealing and dangerous as any priests out of Rome, and he routed 
them both. He gave Englishmen no conquests, but he gave them 
peace, and ease, and freedom ; the three per cents, nearly at par ; and 
wheat at five and six and twenty shillings a quarter. 

It was lucky for us that our first Georges were not more high- 
minded men ; especially fortunate that they loved Hanover so much 
as to leave England to have her own way. Our chief troubles began 
when we got a king who gloried in the name of Briton, and, being 
bom in the country, proposed to rule it. He was no more fit to 
govern England than his grandfather and great-grandfather, who did 
not try. It was righting itself during their occupation. The dangerous, 
noble old spirit of cavalier loyalty was dying out; the stately old 
English High Church was emptying itself: the questions dropping 
which, on one side and the other ; — the side of loyalty, prerogative, 
church, and king ; — the side of right, truth, civil and religious freedom, 
— had set generations of brave men in arms. By the time when 
George III. came to the throne, the combat between loyalty and 
liberty was come to an end ; and Charles Edward, old, tipsy, and 
childless, was dying in Italy. 

Those who are curious about European Court history of the last 
age know the memoirs of the Margravine of Bayreuth, and what a 
Court was that of Berlin, where George II.'s cousins ruled sovereign* 
Frederick the Great's father knocked down his sons, daughters, officers 
of state ; he kidnapped big men all Europe over to make grenadiers 
of : his feasts, his parades, his wine-parties, his tobacco-parties, are 
all described. Jonathan Wild the Great in language, pleasures, and 



40 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

behaviour, is scarcely more delicate than this German sovereign. 
Louis XV., his life, and reign, and doings, are told in a thousand 
French memoirs. Our George II., at least, was not a worse king than 
his neighbours. He claimed and took the royal exemption from 
doing right which sovereigns assumed. A dull little man of low tastes 
he appears to us in England; yet Hervey tells us that this choleric 
prince was a great sentimentalist, and that his letters — of which he 
wrote prodigious quantities — were quite dangerous in their powers of 
fascination. He kept his sentimentalities for his Germans and his 
queen. With us English, he never chose to be familiar. He has 
been accused of avarice, yet he did not give much money, and did 
not leave much behind him. He did not love the fine arts, but he 
did not pretend to love them. He was no more a hypocrite about 
religion than his father. He judged men by a low standard ; yet, 
with such men as were near him, was he wrong in judging as he did ? 
He readily detected lying and flattery, and liars and flatterers were 
perforce his companions. Had he been more of a dupe he might 
have been more amiable. A dismal experience made him cynical. 
No boon was it to him to be clear-sighted, and see only selfishness 
and flattery round about him. What could Walpole tell him about 
his Lords and Commons, but that they were all venal ? Did not his 
clergy, his courtiers, bring him the same story ? Dealing with men 
and women in his rude, sceptical way, he canie to doubt about 
honour, male and female, about patriotism, about religion. " He is 
wild, but he fights like a man," George I., the taciturn, said of his son 
and successor. Courage George II. certainly had. The Electoral 
Prince, at the head of his father's contingent, had approved himself a 
good and brave soldier under Eugene and Marlborough. At 
Oudenarde he specially distinguished himself. At Malplaquet the 
other claimant to the English throne won but little honour. There 
was always a question about James's courage. Neither then in 
Flanders, nor afterwards in his own ancient kingdom of Scotland, did 
the luckless Pretender show much resolution. But dapper little 
George had a famous tough spirit of his own, and fought like a 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 41 

Trojan. He called out his brother of Prussia, with sword and pistol ; 
and I wish, for the interest of romancers in general, that that famous 
duel could have taken place. The two sovereigns hated each other 
with all their might; their seconds were appointed; the place of 
meeting was settled ; and the duel was only prevented by strong 
representations made to the two, of the European laughter which 
would have been caused by such a transaction. 

Whenever we hear of dapper George at war, it is certain that he 
demeaned himself like a little man of valour. At Dettingen his horse 
ran away with him, and with difficulty was stopped from carrying him 
into the enemy's lines. The King, dismounting from the .fiery quad- 
ruped, said bravely, " Now I know I shall not run away ; " and placed 
himself at the head of the foot, drew his sword, brandishing it at the 
whole of the French army, and calling out to his own men to come 
on, in bad English, but with the most famous pluck and spirit In 
'45, when the Pretender was at Derby, and many people began to 
look pale, the King never lost his courage — not he. " Pooh ! don't 
talk to me that stuff ! " he said, like a gallant little prince as he 
was, and never for one moment allowed his equanimity, or his 
business, or his pleasures, or his travels, to be disturbed. On 
public festivals he always appeared in the hat and coat he wore on 
the famous day of Oudenarde ; and the people laughed, but kindly, 
at the odd old garment, for bravery never goes out of fashion. 

In private life the Prince showed himself a worthy descendant of 
his father. In this respect, so much has been said about the first 
George's manners, that we need not enter into a description of the 
son's German harem. In 1705 he married a princess remarkable for 
beauty, for cleverness, for learning, for good temper — one of the 
truest and fondest wives ever prince was blessed with, and who 
loved him and was faithful to him, and he, in his coarse fashion, 
loved her to the last. It must be told to the honour of Caroline of 
Anspach, that, at the time when German princes thought no more of 
changing their religion than you of altering your cap, she refused to 
give up Protestantism for the other creed, although an archduke, 



42 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

afterwards to be an emperor, was offered to her for a bridegroom. 
Her Protestant relations in Berlin were angry at her rebellious spirit ; 
it was they who tried to convert her (it is droll to think that 
Frederick the Great, who had no religion at all, was known for a 
long time in England as the Protestant hero), and these good 
Protestants set upon Caroline a certain Father Urban, a very 
skilful Jesuit, and famous winner of souls. But she routed the 
Jesuit ; and she refused Charles VI. ; and she married the little 
Electoral Prince of Hanover, whom she tended with love, and with 
every manner of sacrifice, with artful kindness, with tender flattery, 
with entire self-devotion, thencefonvard until her life's end. 

When George I. made his first visit to Hanover, his son was 
appointed regent during the royal absence. But this honour was 
never again conferred on the Prince of Wales ; he and his father fell 
out presently. On the occasion of the christening of his second son, 
a royal row took place, and the Prince, shaking his fist in the Duke 
of Newcastle's face, called him a rogue, and provoked his august 
father. He and his wife were turned out of St. James's, and their 
princely children taken from them, by order of the royal head of the 
family. Father and mother wept piteously at parting from their 
little ones. The young ones sent some cherries, with their love, to 
papa and mamma ; the parents watered the fruit with tears. They 
had no tears thirty-five years afterwards, when Prince Frederick died 
— their eldest son, their heir, their enemy. 

The King called his daughter-in-law " cefte diahlesse madame la 
princesses The frequenters of the latter's court were forbidden to 
appear at the King's ; their Royal Highnesses going to Bath, we read 
how the courtiers followed them thither, and paid that homage in 
Somersetshire which was forbidden in London. That phrase of 
" ceite diablesse madame la princesse^'* explains one cause of the wTath 
of her royal papa. She was a very clever woman : she had a keen 
sense of humour : she had a dreadful tongue : she turned into 
ridicule the antiquated sultan and his hideous harem. She wrote 
savage letters about him home to members of her family. So> 



GF.OP.GE THE SECOND. 43 

driven out from the royal presence, the Prince and Princess set up 
for themselves in Leicester Fields, "where," says Walpole, "the 
most promising of the young gentlemen of the next party, and the 
prettiest and liveliest of the young ladies, foraied the new court." 
Besides Leicester House, they had their lodge at Richmond, 
frequented by some of the pleasantest company of those days. 
There were the Herveys, and Chesterfield, and little Mr. Pope from 
Twickenham, and with him, sometimes, the savage Dean of 
St Patrick's, and quite a bevy of young ladies, whose pretty faces 
smile on us out of history. There was Lepell, famous in ballad 
song ; and the saucy, charming Mary Bellenden, who would have 
none of the Prince of Wales's fine compliments, who folded her 
aims across her breast, and bade H.R.H, keep off; and knocked 
his purse of guineas into his face, and told him she was tired of 
seeing him count them. He was not an august monarch, this 
Augustus. Walpole tells how, one night at the royal card-table, the 
playful princesses pulled a chair away from under Lady Deloraine, 
who, in revenge, pulled the King's from under him, so that his 
Majesty fell on the carpet. In whatever posture one sees this royal 
Geo^e, he is ludicrous somehow ; even at Dettingen, where he 
fought so bravely, his figure is absurd — calling out in his broken 




44 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

English, and lunging with his rapier, like a fencing-master. In 
contemporary caricatures, George's son, " the Hero of Culloden," is 
also made an object of considerable fun, as witness the preceding 
picture of him defeated by the French (1757) at Hastenbeck. 

I refrain to quote from Walpole regarding George — for those 
charming volumes are in the hands of all who love the gossip of the 
last century. Nothing can be more cheery than Horace's letters. 
Fiddles sing all through them : wax-lights, fine dresses, fine jokes, 
fine plate, fine equipages, glitter and sparkle there : never was such a 
brilliant, jigging, smirking Vanity Fair as that through which he leads , 
us. Hervey, the next great authority, is a darker spirit. About him 
there is something frightful : a few years since his heirs opened the 
lid of the Ickworth box ; it was as if a Pompeii was opened to us — 
the last century dug up, with its temples and its games, its chariots, 
its public places — lupanaria. Wandering through that city of the 
dead, that dreadfully selfish time, through those godless intrigues and 
feasts, through those crowds, pushing and eager, and struggling — 
rouged, and lying, and fawning — I have wanted some one to be 
friends with. I have said to friends conversant with that history, 
" Show me some good person about that Court ; find me, among 
those selfish courtiers, those dissolute, gay people, some one being 
that 1 can love and regard." There is that strutting little sultan 
George II. ; there is that hunchbacked, beetle-browed Lord Chester- 
field; there is John Hervey, with his deadly smile, and ghastly, 
painted face — I hate them. There is Hoadly, cringing from one 
bishopric to another : yonder comes little Mr. Pope, from Twicken- 
ham, with his friend, the Irish dean, in his new cassock, bowing too, 
but with rage flashing from under his bushy eyebrows, and scorn and 
hate quivering in his smile. Can you be fond of these ? Of Pope 
I might : at least I might love his genius, his wit, his greatness, his 
sensibility — with a certain conviction that at some fancied slight, 
some sneer which he imagined, he would tiun upon me and stab me. 
Can you trust the Queen ? She is not of our order : their very 
position makes kings and queens lonely. One inscrutable attach- 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 45 

ment that inscrutable woman has. To that she is faithful, through 
all trial, neglect, pain, and time. Save her husband, she really 
cares for no created being. She is good enough to her children, 
and even fond enough of them : but she would chop them all up 
into little pieces to please him. In her intercoiu'se with all around 
her, she was perfectly kind, gracious, and natural : but friends may 
die, daughters may depart, she will be as perfectly kind and gracious 
to the next set. If the King wants her, she will smile upon him, be 
she ever so sad ; and walk with him, be she ever so weary ; and 
laugh at his brutal jokes, fee she in ever so much pain of body 
or heart. Caroline's devotion to her husband is a prodigy to read of. 
What charm had the little man ? What was there in those wonderful 
letters of thirty pages long, which he wrote to her when he was 
absent, and to his mistresses at Hanover, when he was in London 
with his wife ? Why did Caroline, the most lovely and accomplished 
princess of Germany, take a little red-faced staring princeling for a 
husband, and refuse an emperor? Why, to her last hour, did she 
love him so ? She killed herself because she loved him so. She 
had the gout, and would plunge her feet in cold water in order to 
walk with him. With the film of death over her eyes, writhing in 
intolerable pain, she yet had a livid smile and a gentle word for her 
master. You have read the wonderful history of that death-bed? 
How she bade him marry again, and the reply the old King blub- 
bered out, " Non, non : j'aimii des maitresses." There never was 
such a ghastly farce. I watch the astonishing scene — I stand by that 
awful bedside, wondering at the ways in which God has ordained the 
lives, loves, rewards, successes, passions, actions, ends of his crea- 
tures — ^and can't but laugh, in the presence of death, and with the 
saddest heart In that often-quoted passage from Lord Hervey, in 
which the Queen's death-bed is described, the grotesque horror of the 
details surpasses all satire : the dreadful humour of the scene is more 
terrible than Swift's blackest pages, or Fielding's fiercest irony. The 
man who wrote the story had something diabolical about him : the 
terrible verses which Pope wrote respecting Hervey, in one of his 



46 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

own moods of almost fiendish malignity, I fear are true. I am 
frightened as I look back into the past, and fancy I behold that 
ghastly, beautiful face \ as I think of the Queen writhing on her 
death-bed, and crying out, " Pray ! — pray ! " — of the royal old sinner 
by her side, who kisses her dead lips with frantic grief, and leaves her 
to sin more ; — of the bevy of courtly clergymen, and the archbishop, 
whose prayers she rejects, and who are obliged for propriety's sake to 
shuffle off the anxious inquiries of the public, and vow that her 
Majesty quitted this life " in a heavenly frame of mind." What a 
life ! — to what ends devoted ! What a vanity of vanities ! It is a 
theme for another pulpit than the lecturer's. For a pulpit ? — I think 
the part which pulpits play in the deaths of kings is the most 
ghastly of all the ceremonial : the lying eulogies, the blinking of 
disagreeable truths, the sickening flatteries, the simulated grief, the 
falsehood and sycophancies — all uttered in the name of Heaven in 
our State churches : these monstrous threnodies have been sung from 
time immemorial over kings and queens, good, bad, wicked, licentious. 
The State parson must bring out his commonplaces ; his apparatus of 
rhetorical black-hangings. Dead king or live king, the clergyman 
must flatter him — announce his piety whilst living, and when dead, 
perform the obsequies of " our most religious and gracious king." 

I read that Lady Yarmouth (my most religious and gracious 
King's favourite) sold a bishopric to a clergyman for 5,000/. (She 
betted him 5,000/. that he would not be made a bishop, and he lost, 
and paid her.) Was he the only prelate of his time led up by such 
hands for consecration ? As I peep into George II. 's St. James's, 
I see crowds of cassocks rustling up the back-stairs of the ladies of 
the Court ; stealthy clergy slipping purses into their laps ; that 
godless old King yawning under his canopy in his Chapel Royal, as 
the chaplain before him is discoursing. Discoursing about what ? — 
about righteousness and judgment ? \\Tiilst the chaplain is preach- 
ing, the King is chattering in German almost as loud as the preacher ; 
so loud that the clerg}Tnan — it may be one Dr. Young, he who wrote 
" Night Thoughts," and discoursed on the splendours of the stars, the 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 47 

glories of heaven, and utter vanities of this world— actually burst out 
crying in his pulpit because the defender of the faith and dispenser of 
bishoprics would not listen to him ! No wonder that the clergy were 
corrupt and indifferent amidst this indifference and corruption. No 
wonder that sceptics multiplied and morals degenerated, so far as they 
depended on the influence of such a king. No wonder that Whitfield 
cried out in the wilderness, that Wesley quitted the insulted temple to 
pray on the hill-side. I look with reverence on those men at that time. 
Which is the sublimer spectacle — the good John Wesley, surrounded 
by his congregation of miners at the pit's mouth, or the Queen's 
chaplains mumbling through their morning ofiice in their ante-room, 
under the picture of the great Venus, with the door opened into the 
adjoining chamber, where the Queen is dressing, talking scandal to 
Lord Hervey, or uttering sneers at Lady Suffolk, who is kneeling 
with the basin at her mistress's side ? I say I am scared as I look 
round at this society — at this king, at these courtiers, at these poli- 
ticians, at these bishops — at this flaunting vice and levity. Where- 
abouts in this Court is the honest man ? Where is the pure person 
one may like ? The air stifles one with its sickly perfumes. There 
are some old-world follies and some absurd ceremonials about our 
Court of the present day, which I laugh at, but as an Englishman, 
contrasting it with the past, shall I not acknowledge the change of 
to-day ? As the mistress of St James's passes me now, I salute the 
sovereign, wise, moderate, exemplary of life ; the good mother ; the 
good wife; the accomplished lady; the enlightened friend of art; 
the tender sympathizer in her people's glories and sorrows. 

Of all the Court of George and Caroline, I find no one but 
Lady Suffolk with whom it seems pleasant and kindly to hold con- 
verse. Even the misogynist Croker, who edited her letters, loves 
her, and has that regard for her with which her sweet gracious- 
ness seems to have inspired almost all men and some women who 
came near her. I have noted many little traits which go to prove 
the charms of her character (it is not merely because she is charming, 
but because she is characteristic, that I allude to her). She writes 



48 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

delightfully sober letters. Addressing Mr. Gay at Tunbridge (he 
was, you know, a poet, penniless and in disgrace), she says : "The 
place you are in, has strangely filled your head with phyScians and 
cures j but, take my word for it, many a fine lady has gone there to 
drink the waters without being sick ; and many a man has complained 
of the loss of his heart, who had it in his own possession. I desire 
you will keep yours ; for I shall not 'be very fond of a friend without 
one, and I have a great mind you should be in the number of mine.*' 
When Lord Peterborough was seventy years old, that indomitable 
youth addressed some flaming love, or rather gallantry, letters to 
Mrs. Howard — curious ' relics they are of the romantic manner of 
wooing sometimes in use in those days. It is not passion ; it is not 
love ; it is gallantry : a mixture of earnest and acting \ high-flown 
compliments, profound bov/s, vows, sighs and ogles, in the manner of 
the Clelie romances, and Millamont and Doricourt in the comedy. 
There was a vast elaboration of ceremonies and etiquette, of 
raptures — a regulated form for kneeling and wooing which has quite 
passed out of our downright manners. Henrietta Howard accepted 
the noble old earl's philandering ; answered the queer love-letters 
with due acknowledgment ; made a profound curtsey to Peter- 
borough's profound bow; and got John Gay to help her in the 
composition of her letters in reply to her old knight. He WTOte 
her charming verses, in which there was truth as well as grace. 
** O wonderful creature ! " he writes : — 

" O wonderful creature, a woman of reason ! 
Never grave out of ptide, never gay out of season ! 
\Vhen so easy to guess who this angel should be, 
\Vho would think Mrs. Howard ne'er dreamt it was she ? " 

The great Mr. Pope also celebrated her in lines not less pleasant, 
and painted a portrait of what must certainly have been a 
delightful lady : — 

• 

** I know a thing that's most uncommon— 
. Envy, be silent and attend I — 
I know a reasonable woman, 
Handsome, yet witty, and a friend : 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 49 

** Not warp*d by passion, aw'd by rumour, 

Not grave through pride, or gay through folly : 
An equal mixture of good-humour 
And exquisite soft melancholy. 

** Has she no faults, then (Envy says), sir ? 
Yes, she has one, I must aver — 
\Vhen all the world conspires to praise her, 
The woman's deaf, and does not hear ! " 

Even the women concurred in praising and loving her. The 
Duchess of Queensberry bears testimony to her amiable qualities, and 
writes to her : " I tell you so and so, because you love children, and 
to have children love you." The beautiful, jolly Mary Bellenden, 
represented by contemporaries as " the most perfect creature ever 
known," ^^Tites very pleasantly to her "dear Howard," her "dear 
Siniss," from the country, whither Mary had retired after her marriage, 
and when she gave up being a maid of honour. " How do you do, 
Mrs. Howard?" Mary breaks out. "How do you do, Mrs. 
Howard ? that is all I have to say. This afternoon I am taken with 
a fit of writing ; but as to matter, I have nothing better to entertain 
you, than news of my farm. I therefore give you the follo\ving list 
of the stock of eatables that I am fatting for my private tooth. It is 
well knowik to the whole county of Kent, that I have four fat calves, 
two fat hogs, fit for killing, twelve promising black pigs, two young 
chickens, three fine geese, with thirteen eggs under each (several 
being duck-eggs, else the others do not come to maturity) ; all this, 
with rabbits, arid pigeons, and carp in plenty, beef and mutton at 
reasonable rates. Now, Howard, if you have a mind to stick a knife 
into anything I have named, say so ! " 

A jolly set must they have been, those maids of honour. Pope 
introduces us to a whole bevy of them, in a pleasant letter. " I went," 
he says, " by water to Hampton Court, and met the Prince, with all 
his ladies, on horseback, coming from hunting. Mrs. Bellenden and 
Mrs. Lepell took me into protection, contrary to the laws against 
harbouring Papists, and gave me a dinner, with something I liked 

4 



50 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

• 
better, an opportunity of conversation with Mrs. Howard. We all 

agreed that the life of a maid of honour was of all things the most 
miserable, and wished that all women who envied it had a specimen 
of it To eat Westphalia ham of a morning, ride over hedges and 
ditches on borrowed hacks, come home in the heat of the day with a 
fever, and (what is worse a hundred times) with a red mark on the 
forehead from an uneasy hat — all this may qualify them to make 
excellent wives for hunters. As soon as they wipe off the heat of the 
day, they must simper an hour and catch cold in the Princess's apart- 
ment ; from thence to dinner with what appetite they may ; and after 
that till midnight, work, walk, or think which way they please. No 
lone house in Wales, with a mountain and rookery, is more contem- ' 
plative than this Court Miss Lepell walked with me three or four 
hours by moonlight, and we met no creature of any quality but the 
King, who gave audience to the vice-chamberlain all alone under the 
garden wall." 

I fancy it was a merrier England, that of our ancestors, than the 
island which we inhabit People high and low amused themselves 
very much more. I have calculated the manner in which statesmen 
and persons of condition passed their time — ^and what with drinking, 
and dining, and supping, and cards, wonder how they got through 
their business at all. They played all sorts of games, whi^h, with the 
exception of cricket and tennis, have quite gone out of our manners 
now. In the old prints of St James's Park, you still see the marks 
along the walk, to note the balls when the Court played at MalL 
Fancy Birdcage Walk now so laid out, and Lord John and Lord 
Palmerston knocking balls up and down the avenue ! Most of those 
jolly sports belong to the past, and the good old games of England 
are only to be found in old novels, in old ballads, or the columns of 
dingy old newspapers, which- say how a main of cocks is to be fought 
at Winchester between the Winchester men and the Hampton men ; 
or how the Cornwall men and the Devon men are going to hold a 
great wrestling-match at Totnes, and so on. 

A hundred and twenty years ago tliere were not only country 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 51 

towns in England, but people who inhabited them. We were very 
much more gregarious ; we were amused by very simple pleasures. 
Every town had its fair, every village its wake. The old poets have 
sung a hundred jolly ditties about great cudgel-play ings, famous 
grinning through horse-collars, great maypole meetings, and morris- 
dances. The girls used to run races clad in very light attire ; and 
the kind gentry and good parsons thought no shame in looking on. 
Dancing bears went about the country with pipe and tabor. Certain 
well-known tunes were sung all over the land for hundreds of years, 
and high and low rejoiced in that simple music. Gentlemen who 
wished to entertain their female friends constantly sent for a band. 
When Beau Fielding, a mighty fine gentleman, was courting the lady 
whom he married, he treated her and her companion at his lodgings 
to a supper from the tavern, and after supper they sent out for a 
fiddler — three of them. Fancy the three, in a great wainscoted room, 
in Covent Garden or Soho, lighted by two or three candles in silver 
sconces, some grapes and a bottle of Florence wine on the table, and 
the honest fiddler playing old tunes in quaint old minor keys, as the 
Beau takes out one lady after the other, and solemnly dances 
with her ! 

The very great folks, young noblemen, with their governors, and 
the like, went abroad and made the great tour ; the home satirists 
jeered at the Frenchified and Italian ways which they brought back ; 
but the greater number of people never lef^ the country. The jolly 
squire often had never been twenty miles from home. Those who 
did go went to the baths, to Harrogate, or Scarborough, or Bath, or 
Epsom. Old letters are full of these places of pleasure. Gay writes 
to us about the fiddlers at Tunbridge j of the ladies having merry 
little private balls amongst themselves ; and the gentlemen entertaining 
them by turns with tea and music One of the young beauties whom 
he met did not care for tea : " We have a young lady here," he says, 
" that is very particular in her desires. I have known some young 
ladies, who, if ever they prayed, would ask for some equipage or title, 
a husband or matadores : but this lady, who is but seventeen, and 



52 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

has 30,000/. to her fortune, places all her wishes on a pot of good 
ale. When her friends, for the sake of her shape and complexion, 
would dissuade her from it, she answers, with the truest sincerity, that 
by the loss of shape and complexion she could only lose a husband, 
whereas ale is her passion." 

Every country town had its assembly-room — mouldy old tenements, 
which we may still see in deserted inn-yards, in decayed provincial 
cities, out of which the great wen of London has sucked all the life. 
York, at assize times, and throughout the winter, harboured a large 
society of northern gentry. Shrewsbury was celebrated for its 
festivities. At Newmarket, I read of " a vast deal of good company, 
besides rogues and blacklegs ; " at Norwich, of two assembUes, with 
a prodigious crowd in the hall, the rooms, and the gallery. In 
Cheshire (it is a maid of honour of Queen Caroline who writes, and 
who is longing to be back at Hampton Court, and the fun there) I 
peep into a country house, and see a very merry party : " We meet 
in the work-room before nine, eat, and break a joke or two till twelve, 
then we repair to our own chambers and make ourselves ready, for it 
cannot be called dressing. At noon the great bell fetches us into a 
parlour, adorned with all sorts of fine arms, poisoned darts, several 
pair of old boots and shoes worn by men of might, with the stirrups 
of King Charles I., taken from him at Edgehill," — ^and there they 
have their dinner, after which comes dancing and supper. 

As for Bath, all history went and bathed and drank there. 
George II. and his Queen, Prince Frederick and his court, scarce a 
character one can mention of the early last century, but was seen in 
that famous Pump Room where Beau Nash presided, and his picture 
hung between the busts of Newton and Pope : 

** This picture, placed these busts between, 
Gives satire all its strength : 
Wisdom and Wit are little seen. 
But Folly at full length." 

I should like to have seen the Folly. It was a splendid, 
embroidered, beruffled, snuff-boxed, red-heeled, impertinent Folly, 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 53 

and knew how to make itself respected. I should like to have seen 
that noble old madcap Peterborough in his boots (he actually had the 
audacity to walk about Bath in boots !), with his blue ribbon and 
stars, and a cabbage under each arm, and a chicken in his hand, 
which he had been cheapening for his dinner. Chesterfield came 
there many a time and gambled for hundreds, and grinned through 
his gout Mary Wortley was there, young and beautiful ; and Mary 
Wortley, old, hideous, and snuffy. Miss Chudleigh came there, 
slipping away from one husband, and on the look-out for another. 
Walpole passed many a day there; sickly, supercilious, absurdly 
dandified, and affected ; with a brilliant wit, a delightful sensibility ; 
and for his friends, a most tender, generous, and faithful heart And 
if you and I had been alive then, and strolling down Milsom Street 
— hush ! we should have taken our hats off, as an awful, long, lean, 
gaunt figiu-e, swathed in flannels, passed by in its chair, and a livid 
face looked out from the window — great fierce eyes staring from 
under a bushy, powdered .wig, a terrible frown, a terrible Roman nose 
— ^and we whisper to one another, " There he is ! There's the great 
commoner 1 There is Mr. Pitt ! " As we walk away, the abbey 
bells are set a-ringing ; and we meet our testy friend Toby Smollett, 
on the arm of James Quin the actor, who tells us that the bells ring 
for Mr. Bullock, an eminent cowkeeper from Tottenham, who has 
just arrived to drink the waters ; and Toby shakes his cane at the 
door of Colonel Ringworm — the Creole gentleman's lodgings next 
his own — where the colonel's two negroes are practising on the 
French horn. 

"When we try to recall social England, we must fancy it playing 
at cards for many hours every day. The custom is well nigh gone 
out among us now, but fifty years ago was general, fifty years before 
that almost universal, in the country. "Gaming has become so 
much the fashion," writes Seymour, the author of the " Court 
Gamester," "that he who in company should be ignorant of the 
games in vogue, would be reckoned low-bred, and hardly fit for 
conversation." There were cards everywhere. It was considered 



54 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

ill-bred to read in company. " Books were not fit articles for drawing- 
rooms," old ladies used to say. People were jealous, as it were, and 
angry with them. You will find in Hervey that George II. was 
always furious at the sight of books; and his Queen, who loved 
reading, had to practise it in secret in her closet But cards were 
the resource of all the world. Every night, for hours, kings and 
queens of England sat down and handled their majesties of spades 
and diamonds. In European Courts, I believe the practice still 
remains, not for gambling, but for pastime. Our ancestors generally 
adopted it. " Books ! prithee, don't talk to me about books," said 
old Sarah Marlborough. "The only books I know are men and 
cards." " Dear old Sir Roger de Coverley sent all his tenants a 
string of hogs' puddings and a pack of cards at Christmas," says the 
Spectator, wishing to depict a kind landlord. One of the good old 
lady writers in whose letters I have been dipping cries out, *• Sure, 
cards have kept us women from a great deal of scandal ! " Wise old 
Johnson regretted that he had not learnt to play. " It is very useful 
in life," he says j " it generates kindness, and consolidates society." 
David Hume never went to bed without his whist We have Walpole, 
in one of his letters, in a transport of gratitude for the cards. " I 
shall build an altar to Pam," says he, in his pleasant dandified way, 
" for the escape of my charming Duchess of Grafton." The Ducliess 
had been playing cards at Rome, when she ought to have been at a 
cardinal's concert, where the floor fell in, and all the monsignors were 
precipitated into the cellar. Even the Nonconformist clergy looked 
not unkindly on the practice. " I do not think," says one of them, 
"that honest Martin Luther committed sin by playing at back- 
gammon for an hour or two after dinner, in order by unbending his 
mind to promote digestion." As for the High Church parsons, they 
all played, bishops and all. On Twelfth-day the Court used to play 
in state. " This being Twelfth-day, his Majesty, the Prince of Wales, 
and the Knights Companions of the Garter, Thistle, and Bath, 
appeared in the collars of their respective orders. Their Majesties, 
the Prince of Wales, and three eldest Princesses, went to the Chapel 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 55 

Royal, preceded by the heralds. The Duke of Manchester carried 
the sword of State. The King and Prince made offering at the altar 
of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to the annual custom. 
At night their Majesties played at hazard with the nobility, for the 
benefit of the groom-porter; and 'twas said the king won 600 
guineas ; the queen, 360 ; Princess Amelia, twenty ; Princess 
Caroline, ten ; the Duke of Grafton and the Earl of Portmore, several 
thousands." 

Let us glance at the same chronicle, which is of the year 1731, 
and see how others of our forefathers were engaged. 

" Cork, 15th January. — ^This day, one Tim Croneen was, for the 
murder and robbery of Mr. St. Leger and his wife, sentenced to be 
hanged two minutes, then his head to be cut off, and his body 
divided in four quarters, to be placed in four cross-ways. He was 
servant to Mr. St Leger, and committed the murder with the privity 
of the servant-maid, who was sentenced to be burned ; also of the 
gardener, whom he knocked on the head, to deprive him of his share 
of the booty." 

" January 3. — A postboy was shot by an Irish gentleman on the 
road near Stone, in Staffordshire, who died in two days, for which 
the gentleman was imprisoned." 

" A poor man was found hanging in a gentleman's stables at 
Bungay, in Norfolk, by a person who cut him down, and running for 
assistance, left his penknife behind him. The poor man recovering* 
cut his throat with the knife ; and a river being nigh, jumped into it ; 
but company coming, he was dragged out alive, and was like to 
remain so." 

" The Honourable Thomas Finch, brother to the Earl of Notting- 
ham, is appointed ambassador at the Hague, in the room of the Earl 
of Chesterfield, who is on his return home." 

"William Cowper, Esq., and the Rev. Mr. John Cowper, chaplain 
in ordinary to her Majesty, and rector of Great Berkhampstead, in 
the county of Hertford, are appointed clerks of the commissioners of 
bankruptcy." 



56 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

" Charles Creagh, Esq., and Macnamara, Esq., between whom 

an old grudge of three years had subsisted, which had occasioned their 
being bound over about fifty times for breaking the peace, meeting in 
company with Mr. Eyres, of Galloway, they discharged their pistols, 
and all three were killed on the spot — to the great joy of their 
peaceful neighbours, say the Irish papers." 

"Wheat is 26s, to 28^., and barley 20s. to 22s. a quarter; three 
per cents., 92 ; best loaf sugar, ^\d. ; Bohea, 12s, to 14J. ; Pekoe, 
iSs, ; and Hyson, 35^. per pound." 

"At Exon was celebrated with great magnificence the birthday 
of the son of Sir W. Courtney, Bart., at which more than 1,000 
persons were present. A bullock was roasted whole ; a butt of wine 
and several tuns of beer and cider were given to the populace. At 
the same time Sir William delivered to his son, then of age, Powdram 
Castle, and a great estate." 

" Charlesworth and Cox, two solicitors, convicted of forgery, 
stood on the pillory at the Royal Exchange. The first was severely 
handled by the populace, but the other was very much favoured, and 
protected by six or seven fellows who got on the pillory to protect 
him from the insults of the mob." 

"A boy killed by falling upon iron spikes, from a lamp-post, 
which he climbed to see Mother Needham stand in the pillory." 

" Mary Lynn was burnt to ashes at the stake for being concerned 
in the murder of her mistress." 

" Alexander Russell, the foot soldier, who was capitally convicted 
for a street robbery in January sessions, was reprieved for transporta- 
tion ; but having an estate fallen to him, obtained a free pardon." 

" The Lord John Russell married to the Lady Diana Spencer, at 
Marlborough House. He has a fortune of 30,000/. dowTi, and is to 
have 100,000/. at the death of the Duchess Dowager of Marlborough, 
his grandmother." 

" March i being the anniversary of the Queen's birthday, when 
her Majesty entered the forty-ninth year of her age, there was a 
splendid appearande of nobility at St. James's. Her Majesty was 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 57 

magnificently dressed, and wore a flowered muslin head-edging, as 
did also her Royal Highness. The Lord Portmore was said to have 
had the richest dress, though an Italian Count had twenty-four 
diamonds instead of buttons." 

New clothes on the birthday were the fashion for all loyal people. 
Swift mentions the custom several times. Walpole is constantly 
speaking of it ; laughing at the practice, but having the ver}' finest 
clothes from Paris, nevertheless. If the King and Queen were 
unpopular, there were very few new clothes at the drawing-room. In 
a paper in the True Patriot^ No. 3, written to attack the Pretender, 
the Scotch, French, and Popery, Fielding supposes the Scotch and 
the Pretender in possession of London, and himself about to be 
hanged for loyalty, — when, just as the rope is round his neck, he 
says : " My little giri entered my bed-chamber, and put an end to my 
dream by pulling open my eyes, and telling me that the tailor had 
just brought home my clothes for his Majesty's birthday.*' In his 
" Temple Beau," the beau is dunned " for a birthday suit of velvet, 
40/.'* Be sure that Mr. Harry Fielding was dunned too. 

The public days, no doubt, were splendid, but the private Court 
life must have been awfully wearisome. '* I will not trouble you," 
writes Hervey to Lady Sandon, " with any account of our occu- 
pations at Hampton Court No mill-horse ever went in a more 
constant track, or a more unchanging circle ; so that, by the assistance 
of an almanack for the day of the week, and a watch for the hour of 
the day, you may inform yourself fully, without any other intelligence 
but your memory, of every transaction within the verge of the Court. 
Walking, chaises, levies, and audiences fill the morning. At night 
the King plays at commerce and backgammon, and the Queen at 
quadrille, where poor Lady Charlotte runs her usual nightly gauntlet, 
the Queen pulling her hood, and the Princess Royal rapping her 
knuckles. The Duke of Grafton takes his nightly opiate of lottery, 
and sleeps as usual between the Princesses Amelia and Caroline. 
Lord Grantham strolls firom one room to another (as Dryden says), 
like some discontented ghost that oft appears, and ie forbid to speak ; 



58 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

and stirs himself about as people stir a fire, not with any design, but 
in hopes to make it bum brisker. At last the King gets up \ the pool 
finishes ; and everybody has their dismission. Their Majesties retire 
to Lady Charlotte and my Lord LifFord; my Lord Grantham, to 
Lady Frances and Mr. Clark : some to supper, some to bed ; and 
thus the evening and the morning make the day." 

The King's fondness for Hanover occasioned all sorts of rough 
jokes among his English subjects, to whom saucr-kraut and sausages 
have ever been ridiculous objects. When our present Prince Consort 
came among us, the people bawled out songs in the streets indicative 
of the absurdity of Germany in general. The sausage-shops produced 
enormous sausages which we might suppose wxre the daily food and 
delight of German princes. I remember the caricatures at the 
marriage of Prince Leopold with the Princess Charlotte. The 
bridegroom was drawn in rags. George Ill.*s wife was called by the 
people a beggarly German duchess ; the British idea being that all 
princes were beggarly except British princes. King George paid us 
back. He thought there were no manners out of Germany. Sarah 
Marlborough once coming to visit the Princess, whilst her Royal 
Highness was whipping one of the roaring royal children, ** Ah ! " 
says George, who was standing by, " you have no good manners in 
England, because you are not properly brought up when you are 
young." He insisted that no English cooks could roast, no English 
coachman could drive : he actually questioned the superiority of our 
nobility, our horses, and our roast beef ! 

Whilst he was away from his beloved Hanover, everything 
remained there exactly as in the Prince's presence. There were 800 
horses in the stables, there was all the apparatus of chamberlains, 
court-marshals, and equerries ; and court assemblies were held every 
Saturday, where all the nobility of Hanover assembled at what I 
can't but think a fine and touching ceremony. A large arm-chair 
was placed in the assembly-room, and on it the King's portrait The 
nobility advanced, and made a bow to the arm-chair, and to the 
image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up ; and spoke under 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 59 

their voices before the august picture, just as they would have done 
had the King Churfiirst been present himself. 

He was always going back to Hanover. In the year 1729, he 
went for two whole years, during which Caroline reigned for him in 
England, and he was not in the least missed by his British subjects. 
He went again in '35 and '36 ; and between the years 1740 and 1755 
was no less than eight times on the Continent, which amusement he 
was obliged to give up at the outbreak of the Seven Years' war. 
Here every day's amusement was the same. " Our life is as uniform 
as that of a monastery," writes a courtier whom Vehse quotes. 
" Every morning at eleven, and every evening at six, we drive in the 
heat to Herrenhausen, through an enormous linden avenue; and 
twice a day cover our coats and coaches with dust. In the King's 
society there never is the least change. At table, and at cards, he 
sees always the same faces, and at the end of the game retires into 
his chamber. Twice a week there is a French theatre ; the other 
days there is play in the gallery. In this way, were the King always 
to stop in Hanover, one could make a ten years' calendar of his 
proceedings ; and settle beforehand what his time of business, meals, 
and pleasure would be." 

The old pagan kept his promise to his dying wife. Lady 
Yarmouth was now in full favour, and treated with profound respect 
by the Hanover society, though it appears rather neglected in 
England when she came among us. In 1740, a couple of the King's 
daughters went to see him at Hanover; Anna, the Princess of 
Orange (about whom, and whose husband and marriage-day, Walpole 
and Hervey have left us the most ludicrous descriptions), and Maria 
of Hesse Cassel, with their respective lords. This made the Hanover 
court very brilliant In honour of his high guests, the King gave 
sevGTaX/^Us; among others, a magnificent masked ball, in the green 
theatre at Herrenhausen — the garden theatre, with linden and box 
for screen, and grass for a carpet, where the Platens had danced to 
George and his father the late sultan. The stage and a great part of 
the garden were illuminated with coloured lamps. Almost the whole 



6o THE FOUR GEORGES. 

court appeared in white dominoes, " like," says the describer of the 
scene, " like spirits in the Elysian fields. At night, supper was served 
in the gallery with three great tables, and the King was very merry. 
After supper dancing was resumed, and I did not get home till five 
o'clock by full daylight to Hanover. Some days afterwards we had, 
in the opera-house at Hanover, a great assembly. The King appeared 
in a Turkish dress ; his turban was ornamented with a magnificent 
agraffe of diamonds ; the Lady Yarmouth was dressed as a sultana ; 
nobody was more beautiful than the Princess of Hesse." So, while 
poor Caroline was resting in her coffin, dapper little George, with his 
red face and his white eyebrows and goggle-eyes, at sixty years of 
age, is dancing a pretty dance with Madame Walmoden, and capering 
about dressed up like a Turk ! For twenty years more, that little old 
Bajazet went on in this Turkish fashion, until the fit came which 
choked the old man, when he ordered the side of his coffin to be 
taken out, as well as that of poor Caroline's who had preceded him, 
so that his sinful old bones and ashes might mingle with those of the 
faithful creature. O strutting Turkey-cock of Herrenhausen ! O 
naughty Httle Mahomet ! in what Turkish paradise are you now, and 
where be your painted houris ? So Countess Yarmouth appeared as 
a sultana, and his Majesty in a Turkish dress wore an agraffe of 
diamonds, and was very merry, was he ? Friends ! he was your 
fathers' King as well as mine — let us drop a respectful tear over 
his grave. 

He said of his wife that he never knew a woman who was worthy 
to buckle her shoe : he would sit alone weeping before her portrait, 
and when he had dried his eyes, he would go off to his Walmoden and 
talk of her. On the 25th day of October, 1760, he being then in the 
seventy-seventh year of his age, and the thirty-fourth of his reign, his 
page went to take him his royal chocolate, and behold ! the most 
religious and gracious King was lying dead on the floor. They went 
and fetched Walmoden ; but Walmoden could not wake him. The 
sacred Majesty was but a lifeless corpse. The King was dead ; God 
save the King! But, of course, poets and clergymen decorously 



GEORGE THE SECOND. 6i 

bewailed the late one. Here are some artless verses, in which an 
English divine deplored the famous departed hero, and over which 
you may cry or you may laugh, exactly as your humour suits : — 

" While at his feet expiring Faction lay, 
No contest left but who should best obey ; 
Saw in his offspring all himself renewed ; 
The same fair path of glory still pursued ; 
Saw to young George Augusta's care impart 
Whatever could raise and humanize the heart ; 
Blend all his grandsire's virtues with his own, 
And form their mingled radiance for the throne — 
No farther blessing could on earth be given — 
The next degree of happiness was — heaven 1 " 

If hq had been good, if he had been just, if he had been pure in 
life, and wise in council, could the poet have said much more ? It 
was a parson who came and wept over this grave, with Walmoden 
sitting on it, and claimed heaven for the poor old man slumbering 
below. Here was one who had neither dignity, learning, morals, nor 
wit — who tainted a great society by a bad example ; who in youth, 
manhood, old age, was gross, low, and sensual; and Mr. Porteus, 
afterwards my Lord Bishop Porteus, says the earth was not good 
enough for him, and that his only place was heaven ! Bravo, 
Mr. Porteus ! The divine who wept these tears over George the 
Second's memory wore George the Third's lawn. I don't know 
whether people still admire his poetry or his sermons. 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 



'^ E have to glance over sixty 
years in as many minutes. 
To read the mere catalogue 
of characters who figured 
dunng that long period 
\ould occupy our allotted 
time and iie should have 
all text and no sermon 
England has to undergo 
the revolt of the American 
colonies to submit to 
defeat and separation to 
shake under the volcano 
of the French Uevolotion 
ta grapple and fight for the 
life with her gigantic enemy 
Napoleon to gasp and 
rally after that tremendous 
straggle. The old society, 
with its courtly splendours, has to pass away ; generations of statesmen 
to rise and disappear ; Pitt to follow Chatham to the tomb ; the memory 
of Rodney and Wolfe to be superseded by Nelson's and Wellington's 
glory ; the old poets who unite us to Queen Anne's time to sink into 
their graves ; Johnson to die, and Scott and Byron to arise ; Garrick 




66 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

to delight the world with his dazzling dramatic genius, and Kean to 
leap on the stage and take possession of the astonished theatre. 
Steam has to be invented ; kings to be beheaded, banished, deposed, 
restored. Napoleon to be but an episode, and George III. is to be 
alive through all these varied changes, to accompany his people 
through all these revolutions of thought, government, society; to 
survive out of the old world into ours. 

^\^len I first saw England, she was in mourning for the young 
Princess Charlotte, the hope of the empire. I came from India as a 
child, and our ship touched at an island on the way home, where my 
black servant took me a long walk over rocks and hills until we 
reached a garden, where we saw a man walking. " That is he," said 
the black man : " that is Bonaparte ! He eats three sheep every day, 
and all the little children he can lay hands on ! " There were people 
in the British dominions besides that poor Calcutta serving-man, with 
an equal horror of the Corsican ogre. 

With the same childish attendant, I remember peeping through 
the colonnade at Carlton House, and seeing the abode of the great 
Prince Regent. I can see yet the Guards pacing before the gates of 
the place. The place ! What place ? The palace exists no more 
than the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is but a name now. Where 
be the sentries who used to salute as the Royal chariots drove in and 
out ? The chariots, with the kings inside, have driven to the realms 
of Pluto; the tall Guards have marched into darkness, and the 
echoes of their drums are rolling in Hades. Where the palace once 
stood, a hundred little children are paddling up and down the steps 
to St James's Park. A score of grave gentlemen are taking their tea 
at the "Athenaeum Club ;*' as many grisly warriors are garrisoning 
the " United Service Club " opposite. Pall Mall is the great social 
Exchange of London now — the mart of news, of politics, of scandal, 
of rumour — the English forum, so to speak, where men discuss the 
last despatch from the Crimea, the last speech of Lord Derby, the 
next move of Lord John. And, now and then, to a few antiquarians 
whose thoughts are with the past rather than with the present, it is a 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 67 

memorial of old times and old people, and Pall Mall is our Palmyra. 
Look ! About this spot Tom of Ten Thousand was killed by 
Konigsmarck's gang. In that great red house Gainsborough lived, 
and CuUoden Cumberland, George III/s uncle. Yonder is Sarah 
Marlborough's palace, just as it stood when that termagant occupied 
it At 25, Walter Scott used to live ; at the house, now No. 79,* and 
occupied by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign 
Parts, resided Mrs. Eleanor Gwynn, comedian. How often has 
Queen Caroline's chair issued from under yonder arch ! All the men 
of the Georges have passed up and down the street It has seen 
Walpole's chariot and Chatham's sedan ; and Fox, Gibbon, Sheridan, 
on their way to Brookes's ; and stately William Pitt stalking on the 
arm of Dundas; and Hanger and Tom Sherid^m reeling out of 
Raggett's ; and Byron limping into Wattier's ; and Swift striding out 
of Bury Street ; and Mr. Addison and Dick Steele, both perhaps a 
little the better for liquor ; and the Prince of Wales and the Duke 
of York clattering over the pavement ; and Johnson counting the 
posts along the streets, after dawdling before Dodsley's window; 
and Horry Walpole hobbling into his carriage, with a gimcrack 
just bought at Christie's ; and George Selwyn sauntering into White's. 
In the published letters to George Selwyn we get a mass of corre- 
spondence by no means so brilliant and witty as Walpole's, or so 
bitter and bright as Hervey's, but as interesting, and even more 
descriptive of the time, because the letters are the work of many 
hands. You hear more voices speaking, as it were, and more natural 
than Horace's dandified treble, and Sporus's malignant whisper. As 
one reads the Selwyn letters — as one looks at Reynolds's noble 
pictures illustrative of those magnificent times and voluptuous people 
— one almost hecirs the voice of the dead past ; the laughter and the 
chorus ; the toast called over the brimming cups ; the shout at the 
racecourse or the gaming-table ; the merry joke frankly spoken to the 
laughing fine lady. How fine those ladies were, those ladies who 
heard and spoke such coarse jokes ; how grand those gentlemen ! 

• 1856. 



68 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

I fancy that peculiar product of the past, the fine gentleman, has 
almost vanished off the face of the earth, and is disappearing like the 
beaver or the Red Indian. We can't have fine gentlemen any more, 
because we can't have the society in which they lived. The people 
will not obey : the parasites will not be as obsequious as formerly : 
children do not go down on their knees to beg their parents' blessing: 
chaplains do not say grace and retire before the pudding : servants do 
not say " ypur honour " and " your worship " at every moment : 
tradesmen do not stand hat in hand as the gentleman passes : authors 
do not wait for hours in gentlemen's anterooms with a fulsome dedi- 
cation, for which they hope to get five guineas from his lordship. In 
the days when there were fine gentlemen, Mr. Secretary Pitt's under- 
secretaries did not dare to sit down before him ; but Mr. Pitt, in his 
turn, went down on his gouty knees to George II. ; and when 
George III. spoke a few kind words to him. Lord Chatham burst into 
tears of reverential joy and gratitude ; so awful was the idea of the 
monarch, and so great the distinctions of rank. Fancy Lord John 
Russell or Lord Palmerston on their knees whilst the Sovereign was 
reading a despatch, or beginning to cry because Prince Albert said 
something civil ! 

At the accession of George III., the patricians were yet at the 
height of their good fortune. Society recognized their superiority, 
which they themselves pretty calmly took for granted. They inherited 
not only titles and estates, and seats in the house of Peers, but seats 
in the House of Commons. There were a multitude of Government 
places, and not merely these, but bribes of actual 500/. notes, which 
members of the House took not much shame in receiving. Fox 
went into Parliament at 20 : Pitt when just of age : his father when 
not much older. It was the good time for Patricians. Small blame to 
them if they took and enjoyed, and over-enjoyed, the prizes of politics, 
the pleasures of social life. 

In these letters to Selwyn, we are made acquainted with a whole 
society of these defunct fine gentlemen : and can watch with a curious 
mterest a life which the novel-writers of that time, I think, have 



k 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 69 

scarce touched upon. To Smollett, to Fielding even, a lord was a 
lord : a gorgeous being with a blue ribbon, a coroneted chair, and an 
immense star on his bosom, to whom commoners paid reverence. 
Richardson, a man of humbler birth than either of the above two, 
owned that he was ignorant regarding the manners of the aristocracy, 
and besought Mrs. Donnellan, a lady who had lived in the great 
world, to examine a volume of Sir Charles Grandison, and point out 
any errors which she might see in this particular. Mrs. Donnellan 
found so many faults, that Richardson changed colour ; shut up the 
book ; and muttered that it were best to throw it in the fire. Here, 
in Selw)m, we have the real original men and women of fashion of 
the early time of George III. We can follow them to the new club 
at Almack*s : we can travel over Europe with them : we can accom- 
pany them not only to the public places, but to their country-houses 
and private society. Here is a whole company of them ; wits and 
prodigals ; some persevering in their bad ways : some repentant, but 
relapsing; beautiful ladies, parasites, humble chaplains, led captains. 
Those fair creatures whom we love in Reynolds's portraits, and who 
still look out on us from his canvases with their sweet calm faces and 
gracious smiles — those fine gentlemen who did us the honour to 
govern us ; who inherited their boroughs ; took their ease in their 
patent places ; and slipped Lord North's bribes so elegantly under 
their ruffles — we make acquaintance with a hundred of these fine 
folks, hear their talk and laughter, read of their loves, quarrels, 
intrigues, debts, duels, divorces ; can fancy them alive if we read the 
book long enough. We can attend at Duke Hamilton's wedding, and 
behold him marry his bride with the curtain-ring : we can peep into 
her poor sister's death-bed : we can see Charles Fox cursing over the 
cards, or March bawling out the odds at Newmarket : we can imagine 
Burgoyne tripping off from St. James's Street to conquer the 
Americans, and slinking back into the club somewhat crestfallen 
after his beating ; we can see the young King dressing himself for the 
drawing-room and asking ten thousand questions regarding all the 
gentlemen : we can have high life or low, the struggle at the Opera 



70 THk FOUR GEORGES. 

to behold the Violetta or the Zamperini — the Macaronies and fine 
ladies in their chairs trooping to the masquerade or Madame 
Cornelys's — the crowd at Drury Lane to look at the body of Miss 
Ray, whom Parson Hackman has just pistolled — or we can peep 
into Newgate, where poor Mr. Rice the forger is waiting his 
fate and his supper. " You need not be particular about the sauce 
for his fowl," says one turnkey to another : " for you know he is 
to be hanged in the morning." "Yes," replies the second janitor, 
"but the chaplain sups with him, and he is a terrible fellow for 
melted butter." 

Selwyn has a chaplain and parasite, one Dr. Warner, than whom 
Plautus, or Ben J onson, or Hogarth, never painted a better character. 
In letter after letter he adds fresh strokes to the portrait of him- 
self, and completes a portrait not a little curious to look at now 
that the man has passed away ; all the foul pleasures and gambols in 
which he revelled, played out ; all the rouged faces into which he 
leered, worms and skulls ; all the fine gentlemen whose shoebuckles 
he kissed, laid in their coffins. This worthy clergyman takes care to 
tell us that he does not believe in his religion, though, thank heaven, 
he is not so great a rogue as a lawyer. He goes on Mr. Selwyn's 
errands, any errands, and is proud, he says, to be that gentleman's 
proveditor. He waits upon the Duke of Queensberry — old Q. — and 
exchanges pretty stories with that aristocrat He comes home " after 
a hard day*s christening," as he says, and ^\Tites to his patron before 
sitting down to whist and partridges for supper. He revels in the 
thoughts of ox-cheek and burgundy — he is a boisterous, uproarious 
parasite, licks his master's shoes with explosions of laughter and 
cunning smack and gusto, and likes the taste of that blacking as 
much as the best claret in old Q.'s cellar. He has Rabelais and 
Horace at his greasy fingers' ends. He is inexpressibly mean, 
curiously jolly; kindly and good-natured in secret — a tender-hearted 
knave, not a venomous lickspittle. Jesse says, that at his chapel in 
Long Acre, " he attained a considerable popularity by the pleasing, 
manly, and eloquent style of his delivery." Was infidelity endemic, 



GEORGE THE THIRD, 71 

and corruption in the air? Around a young king, himself of the 
most exemplary life and undoubted piety, lived a court society as 
dissolute as our country ever knew. George II.'s bad morals bore 
their fruit in George III.'s early years ; as I believe that a know- 
ledge of that good man's example, his moderation, his frugal simpli- 
city, and God-fearing life, tended infinitely to improve the morals 
of the country and purify the whole nation. 

After Warner, the most interesting of Selwyn's correspondents is 
the Earl of Carlisle, grandfather of the amiable nobleman at present* 
Viceroy in Ireland. The grandfather, too, was Irish Viceroy, having 
previously been treasurer of the King's household; and, in 1778, the 
principal commissioner for treating, consulting, and agreeing upon 
the means of quieting the divisions subsisting in his Majesty's 
colonies, plantations, and possessions in North America. You may 
read his lordship's manifestoes in the Royal New York Gazette. He 
returned to England, having by no means quieted the colonies ; and 
speedily afterwards the Royal New York Gazette somehow ceased to 
be published. 

This good, clever, kind, highly-bred Lord Carlisle was one of the 
English fine gentlemen who was well-nigh ruined by the awful 
debauchery and extravagance which prevailed in the great English 
society of those days. Its dissoluteness was awful : it had swarmed 
over Europe after the Peace ; it had danced, and raced, and gambled 
in all the courts. It had made its bow at Versailles; it had run 'its 
horses on the plain of Sablons, near Paris, and created the Anglo- 
mania there : it had exported vast quantities of pictures and marbles 
from Rome and Florence : it had ruined itself by building great 
galleries and palaces for the reception of the statues and pictures : it 
had brought over singing- women and dancing-women from all the 
operas of Europe, on whom my lords lavished their thousands, whilst 
they left their honest wives and honest children languishing in the 
lonely, deserted splendours of the castle and park at home. 

Besides the great London society of those days, there was 

♦ 1856. 



72 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

another unacknowledged world, extravagant beyond measure, tearing 
about in the pursuit of pleasure ; dancing, gambling, drinking, 
singing ; meeting the real society in the public places (at Ranelaghs, 
Vauxhalls, and Ridottos, about which our old novelists talk so 
constantly), and outvying the real leaders of fashion in luxury, and 
splendour, and beauty. For instance, when the famous Miss 
Gunning visited Paris as Lady Coventry, where she expected that 
her beauty would meet with the applause which had followed her 
and her sister through England, it appears she was put to flight 
by an English lady still more lovely in the eyes of the Parisians. 
A certain Mrs. Pitt took a box at the opera opposite the Countess ; 
and was so much handsomer than her ladyship, that the parterre 
cried out that this was the real English angel, whereupon Lady 
Coventry quitted Paris in a huff. The poor thing died presently 
of consumption, accelerated, it was said, by the red and white 
paint with which she plastered those luckless charms of hers. 
(We must represent to ourselves all fashionable female Europe, at 
that time, as plastered with white, and raddled with red.) She 
left two daughters behind her, whom George Selwyn loved (he was 
curiously fond of little children), and who are described very 
drolly and pathetically in these letters, in their little nursery, 
where passionate little Lady Fanny, if she had not good cards, flung 
hers into Lady Mary's face; and where they sat conspiring how 
they should receive a new mother-in-law whom their papa presently 
brought home. They got on very well with their mother-in-law, 
who was very kind to them ; and they grew up, and they were 
married, and they were both divorced afterwards — poor little souls ! 
Poor painted mother, poor society, ghastly in its pleasures, its loves, 
its revelries ! 

As for my lord commissioner, we can afford to speak about him ; 
because, though he was a wild and weak commissioner at one time, 
though he hurt his estate, though he gambled and lost ten thousand 
pounds at a sitting — " five times more," says the unlucky gentleman, 
" than I ever lost before ; '* though he swore he never would touch a 



GEORGE THE THIRD, . 73 

card again ; and yet, strange to say, went back to the table and lost 
still more : yet he repented of his errors, sobered down, and became 
a worthy peer and a good country gentleman, and returned to the 
good wife and the good children whom he had always loved with 
the best part of his heart. He had married at one*and-twenty. 
He found himself, in the midst of a dissolute society, at the head 
of a great fortune. Forced into luxury, and obliged to be a great 
lord and a great idler, he yielded to some temptations, and paid 
for them a bitter penalty of manly remorse ; from some others he 
fled wisely, and ended by conquering them nobly. But he always 
had the good wife and children in his mind, and they saved him. 
" I am very glad you did not come to me the morning I left London,'* 
he ^vrites to G. Selwyn, as he is embarking for America. " I can 
only say, I never knew till that moment of parting, what grief was." 
There is no parting now, where they are. The faithful wife, the 
kind, generous gentleman, have left a noble race behind them : an 
inheritor of his name and titles, who is beloved as widely as he is 
known ; a man most kind, accomplished, gentle, friendly, and pure ; 
and female descendants occupying high stations and embellishing 
great names ; some renowned for beauty, and all for spotless lives, 
and pious matronly virtues. 

Another of Selwyn's correspondents is the Earl of March, after- 
wards Duke of Queensberry, whose life lasted into this century; 
and who certainly as earl or duke, young man or greybeard, was 
not an ornament to any possible society. The legends about old Q. 
are awful. In Selwyn, in Wraxall, and contemporary chronicles, the 
observer of human nature may follow him, drinking, gambling, 
intriguing to the end of his career ; when the wrinkled, palsied, 
toothless old Don Juan died, as wicked and unrepentant as he had 
been at the hottest season of youth and passion. There is a house 
in Piccadilly, where they used to show a certain low window at which 
old Q. sat to his ver}- last days, ogling through his senile glasses the 
women as they passed by. 

There must have been a great deal of good about this lazy, 



74 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

sleepy George Selwyn, which, no doubt, is set to his present credit. 
"Your friendship," writes Carlisle to him, "is so different from 
anything I have ever met with or seen in the world, that when I 
recollect the extraordinary proofs of your kindness, it seems to me 
like a dream." " I have lost my oldest friend and acquaintance, 
G. Selw)!!," writes AValpole to Miss Berry : " I really loved him, not 
only for his infinite wit, but for a thousand good qualities." I am 
glad, for my part, that such a lover of cakes and ale should have had 
a thousand good qualities — that he should have been friendly, 
generous, warm-hearted, trustworthy. " I rise at six," writes Carlisle 
to him, from Spa (a great resort of fashionable people in our 
ancestors* days), " play at cricket till dinner, and dance in the 
evening, till I can scarcely crawl to bed at eleven. There is a life 
for you ! You get up at nine ; play with Raton your dog till twelve, 
in your dressing-go>vn ; then creep down to " White's ; " are five 
hours at table ; sleep till supper-time ; and then make two wretches 
carry you in a sedan-chair, with three pints of claret in you, three 
miles for a shilling." Occasionally, instead of sleeping at " White's," 
George went down and snoozed in the House of Commons by the 
side of Lord North. He represented Gloucester for many years, and 
had a borough of his own, Ludgershall, for which, when he was too 
lazy to contest Gloucester, he sat himself. " I have given directions 
for the election of Ludgershall to be of Lord Melbourne and 
myself," he writes to the Premier, whose friend he was, and who was 
himself as sleepy, as witty, and as good-natured as George. 

If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and 
fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and 
criminal, we must make allowances for the rich men's failings, and 
recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had 
we no motive for work, a mortal's natural taste for pleasure, and the 
daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a 
great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and 
idle? In these letters of Lord Carlisle's from which I have been 
quoting, there is many a just complaint made by the kind-hearted 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 75 

young nobleman of the state which he is obliged to keep ; the 
magnificence in which he must live ; the idleness to which his 
position as a peer of England bound him. Better for him had he 
been a la>v)'er at his desk, or a clerk in his office ; — a thousand times 
better chance for happiness, education, employment, security from 
temptation. A few years since the profession of arms was the only 
one which our nobles could follow. The church, the bar, medicine, 
literature, the arts, commerce, were below them. It is to the middle 
class we must look for the safety of England : the working educated 
men, away from Lord North's bribery in the senate ; the good clergy 
not comipted into parasites by hopes of preferment ; the tradesmen 
rising into manly opulence ; the painters pursuing their gentle 
calling : the men of letters in their quiet studies ; these are the men 
whom we love and like to read of in the last age. How small the 
grandees and the men of pleasure look beside them ! how con- 
temptible the story of the George III. court squabbles are beside the 
recorded talk of dear old Johnson ! AVhat is the grandest entertain- 
ment at Windsor, compared to a night at the club over its modest 
cups, with Percy and Langton, and Goldsmith, and poor Bozzy at 
the table? I declare I think, of all the polite men of that age, 
Joshua Reynolds was the finest gentleman. And they were good, as 
well as witty and wise, those dear old friends of the past. Their 
minds were not debauclied by excess, or effeminate with luxury. 
They toiled tlieir noble day's labour : they rested, and took their 
kindly pleasure : they cheered their holiday meetings with generous 
wit and hearty interchange of thought : they were no prudes, but no 
blush need follow their conversation : they were merry, but no riot 
came out of their cups. Ah ! I would have liked a night at the 
*' Turk's Head," even though bad news had arrived from the 
colonies, and Doctor Johnson was growling against the rebels ; to 
have sat with him and Goldy ; and to have heard Burke, the finest 
talker in the world ; and to have had Garrick flashing in with a story 
from his theatre ! — I like, I say, to think of that society ; and not 
merely how pleasant and how wise, but how good they were. I think 



76 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

it was on going home one night from the club that Edmund Burke — 
his noble soul full of great thoughts, be sure, for they never left him ; 
his heart full of gentleness — was accosted by a poor wandering 
woman, to whom he spoke words of kindness ; and moved by the 
tears of this Magdalen, perhaps having caused them by the good 
words he spoke to her, he took her home to the house of his wife 
and children, and never left her until he had found the means of 
restoring her to honesty and labour. O you fine gentlemen ! you 
Marches, and Selwyns, and Chesterfields, how small you look by the 
side of these great men ! Good-natured Carlisle plays at cricket all 
day, and dances in the evening " till he can scarcely crawl," gaily 
contrasting his superior virtue with George Selwyn*s, " carried to bed 
by two wretches at midnight with three pints of claret in him." Do 
you remember the verses — the sacred verses — which Johnson wTote 
on the death of his humble friend, Levett ? 

** Well tried through many a varying year, 
See Levett to the grave descend ; 
Officious, innocent, sincere. 

Of every friendless name the friend. 

** In misery's darkest cavern known. 
His useful care was ever nigh, 
Where hopeless anguish poure<l the groan, 
And lonely want retired to die. 

** No summons mocked by chill delay. 
No petty gain disdained by pride. 
The modest wants of every day 
The toil of every day supplied, 

" His virtues walked their narrow round. 
Nor made a pause, nor left a void ; 
And sure flie Eternal Master found 
His single talent well employed.'* 

AVhose name looks the brightest now, that of Queensberry the 
wealthy duke, or Selwyn the wit, or Levett the poor physician ? 

I hold old Johnson (and shall we not pardon James Boswell 



GEORGE THE THIRD, 77 

some errors for embalming him for us ?).to be the great supporter of 
the British monarchy and church during the last age — ^better than whole 
benches of bishops, better than Pitts, Norths, and the great Burke 
himself. Johnson had the ear of the nation : his immense authority 
reconciled it to loyalty, and shamed it out of irreligion. When 
George III. talked with him, and the people heard the great author's 
good opinion of the sovereign, whole generations rallied to the King. 
Johnson was revered as a sort of oracle ; and the oracle declared for 
church and king. What a humanity the old man had ! He was a 
kindly partaker of all honest pleasures : a fierce foe to all sin, but a 
gentle enemy to all sinners. " What, boys, are you for a frolic ? " he 
cries, wheu Topham Beauclerc comes and wakes him up at 
midnight : " Fm with you." And away he goes, tumbles on his 
homely old clothes, and trundles through Covent Garden with the 
young fellows. When he used to frequent Garrick's theatre, and had 
" the liberty of the scenes," he says, " All the actresses knew me, and. 
dropped me a curtsey as they passed to the stage." That would 
make a pretty picture : it is a pretty picture in my mind, of youth, 
folly, gaiety, tenderly surveyed by wisdom's merciful, pure eyes. 

George III. and his Queen lived in a very unpretending but 
elegant-looking house, on the site of the hideous pile under which his 
granddaughter at present reposes. The King's mother inhabited 
Carlton House, which contemporary prints represent with a perfect 
paradise of a garden, with trim lawns, green arcades, and vistas of 
classic statues. She admired these in company with my Lord Bute, 
who had a fine classic taste, and sometimes counsel took and 
sometimes tea in the pleasant green arbours along with that poHte 
nobleman. Bute was hated with a rage of which there have been 
few examples in English history. He was the butt for everybody's 
abuse ; for Wilkes's devilish mischief ; for Churchill's slashing satire ; 
for the hooting of the mob that roasted the boot, his emblem, in a 
thousand bonfires ; that hated him because he was a favourite and a 
Scotchman, calling him " Mortimer," " Lothario," I know not what 
names, and accusing his royal mistress of all sorts of crimes — the grave, 



78 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

lean, demure elderly woman, who, I dare say, was quite as good as 
her neighbours. Chatham lent the aid of his great malice to 
influence the popular sentiment against her. He assailed, in the 
House of Lords, " the secret influence, more mighty than the throne 
itself, which betrayed and clogged every administration." The most 
furious pamphlets echoed the cry. " Impeach the King's mother," 
was scribbled over every wall at the Court end of the town, Walpole 
tells us. AVhat had she done? WTiat had Frederick, Prince of 
Wales, George's father, done, that he was so loathed by George II. 
and never mentioned by George III. ? Let us not seek for stones to 
battel that forgotten grave, but acquiesce in the contemporary 
epitaph over him : — 

** Here lies Fred, 
Who was alive, and is dead. 
Had it been his father, 
I had much rather. 
Had it been his brother, 
Still better than another. 
Had it been his sister. 
No one would have missetl her. 
Had it been the whole generation, 
Still better for the nation. 
But since *tis only Fred, 
Who was alive, and is dead. 
There's no more to be said." 

The widow with eight children round her, prudently reconciled 
herself with the King, and won the old man's confidence and good- 
will. A shrewd, hard, domineering, narrow-minded woman, she 
educated her children according to her lights, and spoke of the eldest 
as a dull, good boy : she kept him very close : she held the tightest 
rein over him : she had curious prejudices and bigotries. His uncle, 
the burly Cumberland, taking do\^^l a sabre once, and drawing it to 
amuse the child — the boy started back and turned pale. The Prince 
felt a generous shock : " What must they have told him about me ? " 
he asked. 



GEORGE THE THIRD, 79 

His mother's bigotry and hatred he inherited with the courageous 
obstinacy of his own race ; but he was a firm believer where his 
fathers had been free-thinkers, and a true and fond supporter of the 
Church, of which he was the titular defender. Like other dull men, 
the King was all his life suspicious of superior people. He did not 
like Fox ; he did not like Reynolds ; he did not like Nelson, Chatham, 
Burke ; he was testy at the idea of all innovations, and suspicious of 
all innovators. He loved mediocrities; Benjamin West was his 
favourite painter; Beattie was his poet. The King lamented, not 
without pathos, in his after life, that his education had been neglected. 
He was a dull lad 'brought up by narrow-minded people. The 
cleverest tutors in the world could have done little probably to expand 
that small intellect, though they might have improved his tastes, and 
taught his perceptions some generosity. 

But he admired as well as he could. There is little doubt that a 
letter, written by the little Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz, 
— a letter containing the most feeble commonplaces about the horrors 
of war, and the most trivial remarks on the blessings of peace, struck 
the young monarch greatly, and decided him upon selecting the 
young Princess as the sharer of his throne. I pass over the stories 
of his juvenile loves — of Hannah Lightfoot, the Quaker, to whom 
they say he was actually married (though I don't know who has ever 
seen the register) — of lovely black-haired Sarah Lennox, about whose 
beauty Walpole has written in raptures, and who used to lie in wait 
for the young Prince, and make hay at him on the lawn of Holland 
House. He sighed and he longed, but he rode away from her. Her 
picture still hangs in Holland House, a magnificent master-piece of 
Reynolds, a canvas worthy of Titian. She looks from the castle 
window, holding a bird in her hand, at black-eyed young Charles 
Fox, her nephew. The royal bird flew away from lovely Sarah. She 
had to figure as bridesmaid at her little Mecklenburg rival's wedding, 
and died in our own time a quiet old lady, who had become the 
mother of the heroic Napiers. 

They say the little Princess who had written the fine letter about 



So THE FOUR GEORGES, 

the horrors of war — a beautiful letter without a single blot, for which 
she was to be rewarded, like the heroine of the old spelling-book 
story — was at play one day with some of her young companions in the 
gardens of Strelitz, and that the young ladies' conversation was, strange 
to say, about husbands. " Who will take such a poor little princess 
as me ? " Charlotte said to her friend, Ida von Bulow, and at that 
very moment the postman's horn sounded, and Ida said, " Princess ! 
there is the sweetheart." As she said, so it actually turned out. The 
postman brought letters from the splendid young King of all England, 
who said, " Princess ! because you have written such a beautiful 
letter, which does credit to your head and heart, come and be Queen 
of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, and the true wife of your 
most obedient servant, George ! " So she jumped for joy ; and went 
upstairs and packed all her little trunks ; and set off straightway for 
her kingdom in a beautiful yacht, with a harpsichord on board for 
her to play upon, and around her a beautiful fleet, all covered with 
flags and streamers : and the distinguished Madame Auerbach com- 
plimented her with an ode, a translation of which may be read in the 
Gefiileman's Magazine to the present day : — 

** Her gallant navy through the main 
Now cleaves its liquid way. 
There to their queen a chosen train 
Of nymphs due reverence pay. 

* * Europa, when conveyed by Jove 
To Crete's distinguished shore, 
Greater attention scarce could prove, 
Or be respected more.*' 

They met, and they were married, and for years they led the 
happiest, simplest lives sure ever led by married couple. It is said 
the King winced when he first saw his homely little bride ; but, how- 
ever that may be, he was a true and faithful husband to her, as she 
was a faithful and loving wife. They had the simplest pleasures — 
the very mildest and simplest — ^little country dances, to which a 
dozen couple were invited, and where the honest King would stand 



GEORGE THE ' THIRD. 8i 

up and dance for three hours at a time to one tune ; after which 
delicious excitement they would go to "bed without any supper (the 
Court people grumbling sadly at that absence of supper), and get up 
quite early the next morning, and perhaps the next night have 
another dance ; or the Queen would play on the spinet — she played 
pretty well, Haydn said — or the King would read to her a paper out 
of the Spectator, or perhaps one of Ogden*s sermons. O Arcadia ! 
what a life it must have been ! There used to be Sunday drawing- 
rooms at Court ; but the young King stopped these, as he stopped all 
that godless gambling whereof we have made mention. Not that 
George was averse to any innocent pleasures, or pleasures which he 
thought innocent. He was a patron of the arts, after his fashion ; 
kind and gracious to the artists whom he favoured, and respectful to 
their calling. He wanted once to establish an Order of Minerva for 
literary and scientific characters ; the knights were to take rank after 
the knights of the Bath, and to sport a straw-coloured ribbon and a 
star of sixteen points. But there was such a row amongst the literati 
as to the persons who should be appointed, that the plan was given 
up, and Minerva and her star never came down amongst us. 

He objected to painting St. Paul's, as Popish practice ; accord- 
ingly, the most clumsy heathen sculptures decorate that edifice at 
present. It is fortunate that the paintings, too, were spared, for 
painting and drawing were wofully unsound at the close of the last 
century ; and it is far better for our eyes to contemplate whitewash 
(when we turn them away from the clergyman) than to look at Opie's 
pitchy canvases, or Fuseli's livid monsters. 

And yet there is one day in the year — a day when old George 
loved with all his heart to attend it — ^when I think St. Paul's presents 
the noblest sight in the whole world : when five thousand charity 
children, with cheeks like nosegays, and sweet, fresh voices, sing the 
hymn which makes ever}' heart thrill with praise and happiness. I 
have seen a hundred grand sights in the world — coronations, Parisian 
splendours. Crystal Palace openings. Pope's chapels with their pro- 
cessions of long-tailed cardinals and quavering choirs of fat soprani 

6 



82 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

— but think in all Christendom there is no such sight as Charity 
Children's Day. Non Angliy scd angel i. As one looks at that beauti- 
ful multitude of innocents : as the first note strikes ; indeed one may 
almost fancy that cherubs are singihg. 

Of church music the King was always very fond, showing skill in 
it both as a critic and a performer. Many stories, mirthful and 
affecting, are told of his behaviour at the concerts which he ordered. 
When he was blind and ill he chose the music for the Ancient 
Concerts once, and the music and words which he selected were from 
"Samson Agonistes," and all had reference to his blindness, his 
captivity, and his affliction. He would beat time with his music-roll 
as they sang the anthem in the Chapel Royal. If the page below 
was talkative or inattentive, down would come the music-roll on 
young scapegrace's powdered head. The theatre was always his 
delight His bishops and clergy used to attend it, thinking it no 
shame to appear where that good man was seen. He is said not 
to have cared for Shakspeare or tragedy much ; farces and panto- 
mimes were his joy; and especially when clown swallowed a 
carrot or a string of sausages, he would laugh so outrageously 
that the lovely Princess by his side would have to say, ** My gracious 
monarch, do compose yourself." But he continued to laugh, and 
at the very smallest farces, as long as his poor wits were left him. 

There is something to me exceedingly touching in that simple 
early life of the King's. As long as his mother lived — a dozen years 
after his marriage with the little spinet-player — he was a great, shy, 
awkward boy, under the tutelage of that hard parent She must have 
been a clever, domineering, cruel woman. She kept her household 
lonely and in gloom, mistrusting almost all people who came about 
her children. Seeing the young Duke of Gloucester silent and 
unhappy once, she sharply asked him the cause of his silence. " I 
am thinking," said the poor child. " Thinking, sir ! and of what ? " 
" I am thinking if ever I have a son I will not make him so unhappy 
as you make me." The other sons were all wild, except George. 
Dutifully every evening George and Charlotte paid their visit to the 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 83 

King's mother at Carlton House. She had a throat-complaint, of 
which she died ; but to the last persisted in driving about the streets 
to show she was alive. The night before her death the resolute 
woman talked with her son and daughter-in-law as usual, went to 
bed, and was found dead there in the morning. "George, be a 
king ! " were the words which she was for ever croaking in the ears of 
her son : and a king the simple, stubborn, affectionate, bigoted man 
tried to be. 

He did his best ; he worked according to his lights ; what virtue 
he knew, he tried to practise ; what knowledge he could master, he 
strove to acquire. He was for ever drawing maps, for example, and 
learned geography with no small care and industry. He knew all 
about the family histories and genealogies of his gentry, and pretty 
histories he must have kno>vn. He knew the whole Army List ; and 
all the facings, and the exact number of the buttons, and all the tags 
and laces, and the cut of all the cocked hats, pigtails, and gaiters in 
his army. He knew the personnel of the Universities ; what doctors 
were inclined to Socinianism, and who were sound Churchmen ; he 
knew the etiquettes of his own and his grandfather's courts to a 
nicety, and the smallest particulars regarding the routine of ministers, 
secretaries, embassies, audiences ; the humblest page in the ante- 
room, or the meanest helper in the stables or kitchen. These parts 
of the royal business he was capable of learning, and he learned. 
But, as one thinks of an office, almost divine, performed by any 
mortal man — of any single being pretending to control the thoughts, 
to direct the faith, to order the implicit obedience of brother millions, 
to compel them into war at his offence or quarrel j to command, " In 
this way you shall trade, in this way you shall think ; these neighbours 
shall be your allies whom you shall help, these others your enemies 
whom you shall slay at my orders; in this way you shall worship 
God;" — who can wonder that, when such a man as George took 
such an office on himself, punishment and humiliation should fall upon 
people and cliief ? 

Yet there is something grand about his courage. The battle of 



84 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

the King with his aristocracy remains yet to be told by the historian 
who shall view the reign of George more justly than the trumpery 
panegyrists who wrote immediately after his decease. It was he, with 
the people to back him, who made the war with America ; it was he 
and the people who refused justice to the Roman Catholics ; and on 
both questions he beat the patricians. He bribed : he bullied : he 
darkly dissembled on occasion : he exercised a slippery perseverance, 
and a vindictive resolution, which one almost admires as one thinks 
his character over. His courage was never to be beat. It trampled 
North imder foot : it beat the stiff neck of the younger Pitt : even 
his illness never conquered that indomitable spirit. As soon as his 
brain was clear, it resumed the scheme, only laid aside when his 
reason left him : as soon as his hands were out of the strait waistcoat, 
they took up the pen and the plan which had engaged him up to the 
moment of his malady. I believe it is by persons believing themselves 
in the right that nine-tenths of the tyranny of this world has been perpe- 
trated. Arguing on that convenient premiss, the Dey of Algiers would 
cut off twenty heads of a morning ; Father Dominic would bum a 
score of Jews in the presence of the Most Catholic King, and the 
Archbishops of Toledo and Salamanca sing Amen. Protestants were 
roasted, Jesuits hung and quartered at Smithfield, and witches burned 
at Salem, and all by worthy people, who believed they had the best 
authority for their actions. 

And so, with respect to old George, even Americans, whom he 
hated and who conquered him, may give him credit for having quite 
honest reasons for oppressing them. Appended to Lord Brougham's 
biographical sketch of Lord North are some autograph notes of the 
King, which let us most curiously into the state of his mind. " The 
times certainly require," says he, " the concurrence of all who wish to 
prevent anarchy. I have no wish but the prosperity of my own 
dominions, therefore I must look upon all who would not heartily 
assist me as bad men, as well as bad subjects." That is the way he 
reasoned. " I wish nothing but good, therefore every man who does 
not agree with me is a traitor and a scoundrel." Remember that he 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 85 

believed himself anointed by a Divine commission ; remember that 
he was a man of slow parts and imperfect education ; that the same 
awful will of Heaven which placed a crown upon his head, which 
made him tender to his family, pure in his life, courageous and honest, 
made him dull of comprehension, obstinate of will, and at many 
times deprived him of reason. He was the father of his people ; his 
rebellious children must be flogged into obedience. He was the 
defender of the Protestant faith ; he would rather lay that stout head 
upon the block than that Catholics should have a share in the govern- 
ment of England. And you do not suppose that there are not honest 
bigots enough in all countries to back kings in this kind of statesman- 
ship ? Without doubt the American war was popular in England. 
In 1775 the address in favour of coercing the colonies was carried by 
304 to 105 in the Commons, by 104 to 29 in the House of Lords. 
Popular ? — so was the Revocation of the E^ict of Nantes popular in 
France : so was the massacre of St. Bartholomew : so was the 
Inquisition exceedingly popular in Spain. 

Wars and revolutions are, however, the politician's province. The 
great events of this long reign, the statesmen and orators who 
illustrated it, I do not pretend to make the subjects of an hour's light 
talk.* Let us return to our humbler duty of court gossip. Yonder 
sits our little Queen, surrounded by many stout sons and fair daughters 
whom she bore to her faithful George. The history of the daughters, 
as litde Miss Bumey has painted them to us, is delightful. They 
were handsome — she calls them beautiful ; they nvere most kind, 
loving, and lady-like ; they were gracious to every person, high and 
low, who served them. • They had many little accomplishments of 
their own. This one drew : that one played the piano : they all 
worked most prodigiously, and fitted up whole suites of rooms — pretty, 
smiling Penelopes, — with their busy Httle needles. As we picture to 
ourselves the society of eighty years ago, we, must imagine hundreds 
of thousands of groups of women in great high caps, tight bodies, and 

♦ On the next page are the figures, as drawn by young Gilray, of Lord North, 
Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt, and Mrl Burke. 



GEORGE THE THIRD, 87 

fall skirts, needling away, whilst one of the number, or perhaps a 
favoured gentleman in a pigtail, reads out a novel to the com- 
pany. Peep into the cottage at Olney, for example, and see 
there Mrs. Unwin and Lady Hesketh, those high-bred ladies, those 
sweet, pious women, and William Co^vper, that delicate ^vit, that 
trembling pietist, that refined gentleman, absolutely reading out 
Jonathan Wild to the ladies ! What a change in our manners, in our 
amusements, since then ! 

King George's household was a model of an English gentleman's 
household. It was early ; it was kindly ; it was charitable ; it was 
frugal ; it was orderly ; it must have been stupid to a degree which I 
shudder now to contemplate. No wonder all the princes ran away 
from the lap of that dreary domestic virtue. It always rose, rode, 
dined at stated intervals. Day after day was the same. At the same 
hour at night the King kissed his daughters' jolly cheeks ; the 
Princesses kissed their mother's hand ; and Madame Thielke brought 
tlie royal nightcap. At the same hour the equerries and women in 
waiting had their little dinner, and cackled over their tea. The King 
had his backgammon or his evening concert ; the equerries yawned 
themselves to death in the anteroom ; or the King and his family 
walked on W^indsor slopes, the King holding his darling little Princess 
Amelia by the hand ; and the people crowded round quite good- 
naturedly ; and the Eton boys thrust their chubby cheeks under the 
crowd's elbows ; and the concert over, the King never failed to take 
his enormous cocked-hat off, and salute his band, and say, " Thank 
you, gentlemen." 

A quieter household, a more prosaic life than this of Kew or 
Windsor, cannot be imagined. Rain or shine, the King rode every 
day for hours ; poked his red face into hundreds of cottages round 
about, and showed that shovel hat and Windsor uniform to farmers^ 
to pig-boys, to old women making apple dumplings ; to all sorts of 
people, gentle and simple, about whom countless stories are told. 
Nothing can be more undignified than these stories. WTien Haroun 
Alraschid visits 4 subject incog., the latter is sure to be very much 



88 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

the better for the caliph's magnificence. Old George showed no 
such royal splendour. He used to give a guinea sometimes : some- 
times feel in his pockets and find he had no money : often ask a man 
a hundred questions : about the number of his family, about his oats 
and beans, about the rent he paid for his house, and ride on. On 
one occasion he played the part of King Alfred, and turned a piece 
of meat with a string at a cottager's house. When the old woman 
came home, she found a paper with an enclosure of money, and a 
note written by the royal pencil : " Five guineas to buy a jack." It 
was not splendid, but it was kind and worthy of Farmer George. 
One day, when the King and Queen were walking together, they met 
a little boy — they were always fond of children, the good folks — and 
patted the little white head. " WTiose little boy are you ? " asks the 
Windsor uniform. " I am the King's beefeater's little boy," replied 
the child. On which the King said, " Then kneel down, and kiss the 
Queen's hand." But the innocent offspring of the beefeater declined 
this treat. " No," said he, "I won't kneel, for if I do, I shall spoil 
my new breeches." The thrifty King ought to have hugged him and 
knighted him on the spot. George's admirers ^vrote pages and pages 
of such stories about him. One morning, before anybody else was 
up, the King walked about Gloucester town ; pushed over Molly the 
housemaid with her pail, who was scrubbing the doorsteps ; ran 
upstairs and woke all the equerries in their bedrooms ; and then 
trotted dowTi to the bridge, where, by this time, a dozen of louts were 
assembled. " What ! is this Gloucester New Bridge ? " asked our 
gracious monarch ; and the people answered him, " Yes, your 
Majesty." " Why, then, my boys," said he, " let us have a huzzay ! " 
After giving them which intellectual gratification, he went home to 
breakfast Our fathers read these simple tales with fond pleasure ; 
laughed at these very small jokes ; liked the old man who poked his 
nose into every cottage ; who lived on plain wholesome roast and 
boiled ; who despised your French kickshaws ; who was a true hearty 
old English gentleman. You may have seen Gilra/s famous print of 
him — in the old wig, in the stout old hideous Windsor uniform— as 




\ LM-ILE HE BEL. 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 9^ 

the King of Brobdingnag, peering at a little Gulliver, whom he holds 
up in his hand, whilst in the other he has an opera-glass, through 
which he surveys the pigmy ? Our fathers chose to set up George 
as the type of a great king ; and the little Gulliver was the great 
Napoleon. We prided ourselves on our prejudices; we blustered 
and bragged with absurd vainglory; we dealt to our enemy a 
monstrous injustice of contempt and scorn ; we fought him with all 
weapons, mean as well as heroic. There was no lie we would not 
believe ; no charge of crime which our furious prejudice would not 
credit. I thought at one time of making a collection of the lies 
which the French had written against us, and we had published 
against them during the war: it would be a strange memorial of 
popular falsehood. 

Their Majesties were very sociable potentates : and the Court 
Chronicler tells of numerous visits which they paid to their subjects, 
gentle and simple : with whom they dined ; at whose great country- 
houses they stopped; or at whose poorer lodgings they affably 
partook of tea and bread-and-butter. Some of the great folks spent 
enormous sums in entertaining their sovereigns. As marks of special 
favour, the King and Queen sometimes stood as sponsors for the 
children of the nobility. We find Lady Salisbury was so honoured 
in the year 1786; and in the year 1802, Lady Chesterfield. The 
Court News relates how her ladyship received their Majesties on a 
state bed " dressed with white satin and a profusion of lace : the 
counterpane of white satin embroidered with gold, and the bed of 
crimson satin lined with white." The child was first brought by the 
nurse to the Marchioness of Bath, who presided as chief nurse. 
Then the Marchioness handed baby to the Queen. Then the Queen 
handed the little darling to the Bishop of Norwich, the officiating 
clergyman ; and, the ceremony over, a cup of caudle was presented 
by the Earl to his Majesty on one knee, on a large gold waiter, placed 
on a crimson velvet cushion. Misfortunes would occur in these 
interesting genuflectory ceremonies of royal worship. • Bubb Dodding- 
ton, Lord Melcombe, a very fat, puffy man, in a most gorgeous 



92 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

court-suit, had to kneel, Cumberland says, and was so fat and so tight 
that he could not get up again. " Kneel, sir, kneel ! '* cried my lord 
in waiting to a country mayor who had to read an address, but who 
went on with his compliment standing. " Kneel, sir, kneel ! " cries 
my lord, in dreadful alarm. " I can't ! " says the mayor, turning 
round ; " don't you see I have got a wooden leg ? " In the capital 
*' Burney Diary and Letters," the home and court life of good old 
King George and good old Queen Charlotte are presented at 
portentous length. The King rose every morning at six : and had 
two hours to himself. He thought it effeminate to have a carpet in 
his bedroom. Shortly before eight, the Queen and the royal family 
were always ready for him, and they proceeded to the King's chapel 
in the castle. There were no fires in the passages : the chapel was 
scarcely alight ; princesses, governesses, equerries grumbled and 
caught cold : but cold or hot, it was their duty to go : and, wet or 
dry, light or dark, the stout old George was always in his place to 
say amen to the chaplain. 

The Queen's character is represented in " Burney " at full length. 
She was a sensible, most decorous woman ; a very grand lady on 
state occasions, simple enough in ordinary life ; well read as times 
went, and giving shrewd opinions about books; stingy, but not 
unjust ; not generally unkind to her dependants, but invincible in her 
notions of etiquette, and quite angry if her people suffered ill-health 
in her service. She gave Miss Burney a shabby pittance, and led 
the poor young woman a life which well-nigh killed her. She never 
thought but that she was doing Burney the greatest favour, in taking 
her from freedom, fame, and competence, and killing her off with 
languor in that dreary court. It was not dreary to her. Had she 
been servant instead of mistress, her spirit would never have broken 
do\yn : she never would have put a pin out of place, or. been a 
moment from her duty. Site was not weak, and she could not 
pardon those who were. She was perfectly correct in life, and she 
hated poor sinners ^vith a rancour such as virtue sometimes has. 
She must have had awful private trials of her own : not merely with 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 93 

her children, but with her husband, in those long days about which 
nobody will ever know anything now ; when he was not quite insane ; 
when his incessant tongue was babbling folly, rage, persecution ; and 
she had to smile and be respectful and attentive under this intoler- 
able ennui. The Queen bore all her duties stoutly, as she expected 
others to bear them. At a State christening, the lady who held the 
infant was tired and looked unwell, and the Princess of Wales asked 
permission for her to sit down. ** Let her stand," said the Queen, 
flicking the snuff off her sleeve. She would have stood, the resolute 
old woman, if she had had to hold the child till his beard was 
grown. " I am seventy years of age," the Queen said, facing a 
mob of ruffians who stopped her sedan : " I have been fifty years 
Queen of England, and I never was insulted before." Fearless, 
rigid, unforgiving little queen ! I don*t wonder that her sons revolted 
from her. 

Of all the figures in that large family group which surrounds 
George and his Queen, the prettiest, I think, is the father's darling, 
the Princess Amelia, pathetic for her beauty, her sweetness, her early 
death, and for the extreme passionate tenderness with which her 
father loved her. This was his favourite amongst all the children : 
of his sons, he loved the Duke of York best. Bumey tells a sad 
story of the poor old man at Weymouth, and how eager he was to 
have this darling son with him. The King's house was not big 
enough to hold the Prince ; and his father had a portable house 
erected close to his own, and at huge pains, so that his dear Frederick 
should be near him. He clung on his arm all the time of his visit : 
talked to no one else ; had talked of no one else for some time 
before. The Prince, so long expected, stayed but a single night. He 
had business in London the next day, he said. The dulness of the 
old King's court stupefied York and the other big sons of George III. 
They scared equerries and ladies, frightened the modest little circle, 
with their coarse spirits and loud talk. Of little comfort, indeed, 
were the King's sons to the King. 

But the pretty Amelia was his darling ; and the little maiden. 



94 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

prattling and smiling in the fond arms of that old father, is a sweet 
image to look on. There is a family picture in Bumey, which a man 
must be very hard-hearted not to like. She describes an after-dinner 
walk of the royal family at Windsor : — " It was really a mighty pretty 
procession," she says. **The little Princess, just turned of three 
years old, in a robe-coat covered with fme muslin, a dressed close 
cap, white gloves, and fan, walked on alone and first, highly delighted 
with the parade, and turning from side to side to see everybody as 
she passed ; for all the terracers stand up against the walls, to make 
a clear passage for the royal family the moment they come in sight. 
Then followed the King and Queen, no less delighted with the joy of 
their little darling. The Princess Royal leaning on Lady Elizabeth 
Waldegrave, the Princess Augusta holding by the Duchess of 
Ancaster, the Princess Elizabeth led by Lady Charlotte Bertie, 
followed. Office here takes place of rank," says Bumey, — to 
explain how it was that Lady E. Waldegrave, as lady of the bed- 
chamber, walked before a duchess ; — " General Bude, and the 
Duke of Montague, and Major Price as equerry, brought up the 
rear of the procession." One sees it; the band playing its old 
music, the sun shining on the happy, loyal crowd ; and lighting 
the ancient batdements, the rich elms, and purple landscape, and 
bright greensward ; the royal standard drooping from the great 
tower yonder; as old George passes, followed by his race, pre- 
ceded by the charming infant, who caresses the crowd with her 
innocent smiles. 

" On sight of Mrs. Delany, the King instandy stopped to speak 
to her; the Queen, of course, and the little Princess, and all the 
rest, stood still. They talked a good while with the sweet old 
lady, during which time the King once or twice addressed himself 
to me. I caught the Queen's eye, and saw in it a little surprise, 
but by no means any displeasure, to see me of the party. The 
little Princess went up to Mrs. Delany, of whom she is very fond, 
and behaved like a little angel to her. She then, with a look of 
inquiry and recollection, came behind Mrs. Delany to look at me. 



GEORGE THE THIRD. 95 

' I am afraid,' said I, in a whisper, and stooping down, * your 
Royal Highness does not remember me ? ' Her answer was an 
arch little smile; and a nearer approach, with her lips pouted out 
to kiss me." 

The Princess ^^Tote verses herself, and there are some pretty 
plaintive lines attributed to her, which are more touching than better 
poetry : — 

" Unthinking, idle, wild, and young, 
I laughed, and danced, and talked, and sung : 
And, proud of health, of freedom vain. 
Dreamed not of sorrow, care, or pain ; 
Concluding, in those hours of glee. 
That all the world was made for me. 

* * But when the hour of trial came. 
When sickness shook this tremblmg frame, 
When folly's gay pursuits were o*er. 
And I could sing and dance no more. 
It then occurred, how sad 'twould be, 
Were this world only made for me." 

The poor soul quitted it — and ere yet she was dead the agonized 
father was in such a state, that the officers round about him were 
obliged to set watchers over him, and from November, 18 10, 
George III. ceased to reign. All the world knows the story of his 
malady : all history presents no sadder figure than that of the old 
man, blind and deprived of reason, wandering through the rooms of 
his palace, addressing imaginary parliaments, reviewing fancied 
troops, holding ghostly courts. I have seen his picture as it was 
taken at this time, hanging in the apartment of his daughter, the 
Landgravine of Hesse Hombourg — amidst books and Windsor 
furniture, and a hundred fond reminiscences of her English home. 
The poor old father is represented in a purple gown, his snowy beard 
falling over his breast — the star of his famous Order still idly shining 
on it. He was not only sightless : he became utterly deaf. All light, 
all reason, all sound of human voices, all the pleasures of this world 



96 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

of God, were taken from him. Some slight lucid moments he had ; 
in one of which, the Queen, desiring to see him, entered the room, 
and found him singing a hymn, and accompanying himself at the 
harpsichord. When he had finished, he knelt dowTi and prayed 
aloud for her, and then for his family, and then for the nation, con- 
cluding with a prayer for himself, that it might please God to avert 
his heavy calamity from him, but if not, to give him resignation to 
submit He then burst into tears, and his reason again fled. 

What preacher need moralize on this story; what words save 
' the simplest are requisite to tell it ? It is too terrible for tears. The 
thought of such a misery smites me down in submission before the 
Ruler of kings and men, the Monarch Supreme over empires and 
republics, the inscrutable Dispenser of life, death, happiness, victory. 
" O brothers," I said to those who heard me first in America — ** O 
brothers ! speaking the same dear mother tongue — O comrades ! 
enemies no more, let us take a mournful hand together as we stand 
by this royal corpse, and call a truce to battle ! Low he lies to whom 
the proudest used to kneel once, and who was cast lower than the 
poorest: dead, whom millions prayed for in vain. Driven off his 
throne ; buffeted by rude hands ; with his children in revolt ; the 
darling of his old age killed before him untimely ; our Lear hangs 
over her breathless lips and cries, ' Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little ! ' 

* Vex not his ghost — oh ! let him pass — he hates him 
That would upon the rack of this tough world 
Stretch him out longer ! ' 

Hush ! Strife and Quarrel, over the solemn grave ! Sound, trumpets, 
a mournful march. Fall, dark curtain, upon his pageant, his pride, 
his grief, his awful tragedy." 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 



\ 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 



"^ 



N Twiss's amusing 
" Life of Eidon," we 
read how, on the 
death of the Duke of 
York the old chan 
cell or became pos- 
sessed of a lock of 
the defunct Pnnces 
hair and so careful 
was he respecting the 
authenticity of the 
relic that Bessy Eldon 
his wife sat in the 
room with the young 
man from Hamlets 
who distnbuted the 
nnglet mto separate 
lockets, which each 
of the Eldon family 
afteniardswore You 
know how when George IV came to Edinburgh a better 
man than he went on board the royal yacht to welcome the King to 
his kingdom of Scotland, seized a goblet from which his Majesty had 
just drunk, vowed it should remain for ever as an heirloom in his 




loo THE FOUR GEORGES. 

# 

family, clapped the precious glass in his pocket, and sat down on it 
and broke it when he got home. Suppose the good sheriff's prize 
unbroken now at Abbotsford, should we not smile with something 
like pity as we beheld it ? Suppose one of those lockets of the 
no-Popery Prince's hair offered for sale at Christie's, quot iibras e ducc 
summo invenies ? how many pounds would you find for the illustrious 
Duke ? Madame Tussaud has got King George's coronation robes ; 
is there any man now alive who would kiss the hem of that 
trumpery? He sleeps 'since thirty years: do not any of you, who 
remember him, wonder that you once respected and huzza'd and 
admired him ? 

To make a portrait of him at first seemed a matter of small 
difficulty. There is his coat, his star, his wig, his countenance sim- 
pering under it : with a slate and a piece of chalk, I could at this 
very desk perform a recognizable likeness of him. And yet after 
reading of him in scores of volumes, hunting him through old 
magazines and newspapers, having him here at a ball, there at a 
public dinner, there at races and so forth, you find you have nothing 
— nothing but a coat and a wig and a mask smiling below it — 
nothing but a great simulacrum. His sire and grandsires were men. 
One knows what they were like : what they would do in given circum- 
stances : that on occasion they fought and demeaned themselves like 
tough good soldiers. They had friends whom they liked according 
to their natures ; enemies whom they hated fiercely ; passions, and 
actions, and individualities of their own. The sailor King who came 
after George was a man : the Duke of York was a man, big, burly, 
loud, jolly, cursing, courageous. But this George, what was he ? I 
look through all his life, and recognize but a bow and a grin. I try 
and take him to pieces, and find silk stockings, padding, stays, a 
coat with frogs and a fur collar, a star and blue ribbon, a pocket- 
handkerchief prodigiously scented, one of Truefitt's best nutty brown 
wigs reeking with oil, a set of teeth and a huge black stock, under- 
waistcoats, more underwaistcoats, and then nothing. I know of no 
sentiment that he ever distinctly uttered. Documents are published 



GEORGE THE FOURTH, loi 

under his name, but people wTOte them — private letters, but people 
spelt them. He put a great George P. or George R. at the bottom 
of the page and fancied he had written the paper : some bookseller's 
clerk, some poor author, some man did the work ; saw to the spelling, 
cleaned up the slovenly sentences, and gave the lax maudlin slipslop 
a sort of consistency. He must have had an individuality: the 
dancing-master whom he emulated, nay, surpassed — the wig-maker 
who curled his toupee for him — the tailor who cut his coats, had that. 
But, about George, one can get at nothing actual. That outside, I 
am certain, is pad and tailor's work ; there may be something behind, 
but what ? We cannot get at the character ; no doubt never shall. 
Will men of the future have nothing better to do than to unswathe 
and interpret that royal old mummy? I own I once used to think 
it would be good sport to pursue him, fasten on him, and pull him 
down. But now I am ashamed to mount and lay good dogs on, to 
summon a full field, and then to hunt the poor game. 

On the 1 2th August, 1762, the forty-seventh anniversary of the 
accession of the House of Brunswick to the English throne, all the 
bells in London pealed in gratulation, and announced that an heir to 
George HI. was bom. Five days afterwards the King was pleased 
to pass letters patent under the great seal, creating H. R. H. the 
Prince of Great Britain, Electoral Prince of Brunswick Liineburg, 
Duke of Cornwall and Rothsay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, 
Lord of the Isles, and Great Steward of Scotland, Prince of Wales and 
Earl of Chester. 

All the people at his birth thronged to see this lovely child ; and 
behind a gilt china-screen railing in St. James's Palace, in a cradle 
surmounted by the three princely ostrich feathers, the royal infant 
was laid to delight the eyes of the lieges. Among the earliest 
instances of homage paid to him, I read that " a curious Indian bow 
and arrows were sent to the Prince from his father's faithful subjects 
in New York." He was fond of playing with these toys : an old 
statesman, orator, and wit of his grandfather's and great-grandfather's 
time, never tired of his business, still eager in his old age to be well 



I02 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

at court, used to play with the little Prince, and pretend to fall down 
dead when the Prince shot at him with his toy bow and arrows — and 
get up and fall down dead over and over again — to the increased 
delight of the child. So that he was flattered from his cradle 
upwards ; and before his little feet could walk, statesmen and courtiers 
were busy kissing them. 

There is a pretty picture of the royal infant — a beautiful buxom 
child — asleep in his mother's lap ; who turns round and holds a 
finger to her lip, as if she would bid the courtiers around respect the 
baby*s slumbers. From that day until his decease, sixty-eight years 
after, I suppose there were more pictures taken of that personage 
than of any other human being who ever was bom and died — in 
every kind of uniform and every possible court-dress — in long fair 
hair, with powder, with and without a pig-tail — in every conceivable 
cocked-hat — in dragoon uniform — in Windsor uniform — in a field- 
marshaPs clothes — ^in a Scotch kilt and tartans, with dirk and clay- 
more (a stupendous figure) — in a frogged frock-coat with a fur collar 
and tight breeches and silk stockings — in wigs of every colour, fair, 
brown, and black — in his famous coronation robes finally, with which 
performance he was so much in love that he distributed copies of the 
picture to all the courts and British embassies in Europe, and to 
numberless clubs, town-halls, and private friends. I remember as a 
young man how almost every dining-room had his portrait. 

There is plenty of biographical tattle about the Prince's boyhood. 
It is told with what astonishing rapidity he learned all languages, 
ancient and modern ; how he rode beautifully, sang charmingly, and 
played elegantly on the violoncello. That he was beautiful was 
patent to all eyes. He had a high spirit : and once, when he had 
had a difference with his father, burst into the royal closet and called 
out, ** Wilkes and liberty for ever ! " He was so clever, that he 
confounded his very governors in learning ; and one of them. Lord 
Bruce, having made a false quantity in quoting Greek, the admir- 
able young Prince instantly corrected him. Lord Bruce could not 
remain a governor after this humiliation ; resigned his ofiice, and, to 






THE KECENT. 




GEORGE THE FOURTH, 105 

soothe his feelings, was actually promoted to be an earl ! It is the 
most wonderful reason for promoting a man that ever I heard. Lord 
Bruce was made an earl for a blunder in prosody ; and Nelson was 
made a baron for the victory of the Nile. 

Lovers of long sums have added up the millions and millions 
which in the course of his brilliant existence this single Prince 
consumed. Besides his income of 50,000/., 70,000/., 100,000/., 
120,000/. a year, we read of three applications to Parliament: debts 
to the amount of 160,000/, of 650,000/ ; besides mysterious foreign 
loans, whereof he pocketed the proceeds. What did he do for all 
this money? Why was he to have it? If he had been a manufac- 
turing town, or a populous rural district, or an army of five thousand 
men, he would not have cost more. He, one solitary stout man, who 
did not toil, nor spin, nor fight, — what had any mortal done that he 
should be pampered so ? 

In 1784, when he was twenty-one years of age, Carlton Palace 
was given to him, and furnished by the nation with as much luxury 
as could be devised. His pockets were filled with money : he said 
it was not enough ; he flung it out of window : he spent 10,000/. 
a year for the coats on his back. The nation gave him more 
money, and more, and more. The sum is past counting. He was 
a prince most lovely to look on, and was christened Prince Florizel 
on his first appearance in the world. That he was the handsomest 
prince in the whole world was agreed by men, and alas ! by many 
women. 

I suppose he must have been very graceful. There are so many 
testimonies to the charm of his manner, that we must allow him 
great elegance and powers of fascination. He, and the King of 
France's brother, the Count d'Artois, a charming young Prince who 
danced deliciously on the tight-rope — a poor old tottering exiled 
King, who asked hospitality of King George's successor, and lived 
awhile in the palace of Mary Stuart — divided in their youth the title 
of first gentleman of Europe. We in England of course gave the 
prize to our gentleman. Until George's death the propriety of that 



io6 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

award was scarce questioned, or the doubters voted rebels and traitors. 
Only the other day I was reading in the reprint of the delightful 
"Noctes" of Christopher North. The health of THE KING 
is drunk in large capitals by the loyal Scotsman. You would fancy 
him a hero, a sage, a statesman, a pattern for kings and men. It was 
Walter Scott who had that accident with the broken glass I spoke of 
anon. He was the king's Scottish champion, rallied all Scotland to 
him, made loyalty the fashion, and laid about him fiercely with his 
claymore upon all the Prince's enemies. The Brunswicks had no 
such defenders as those two Jacobite commoners, old Sam Johnson 
the Lichfield chapman's son, and Walter Scott, the Edinburgh 
lawyer's. 

Nature and circumstance had done their utmost to prepare the 
Prince for being spoiled : the dreadful dulness of papa's court, its 
stupid amusements, its dreary occupations, the maddening humdrum, 
the stifling sobriety of its routine, would have made a scapegrace of 
a much less lively prince. All the big princes bolted from that castle 
of ennui where old King George sat, posting up his books and 
droning over his Handel ; and old Queen Charlotte over her snuff 
and her tambour-frame. Most of the sturdy, gallant sons settled 
down after sowing their wild oats, and became sober subjects of their 
father and brother — not ill liked by the nation, which pardons 
youthful irregularities readily enough, for the sake of pluck, and 
unaffected ness, ai\d good-humour. 

The boy is father of the man. Our Prince signalized his entrance 
into the world by a feat worthy of his future life. He invented 
a new shoebuckle. It was an inch long and five inches broad. 
" It covered almost the whole instep, reaching down to the ground 
on either side of the foot." A sweet invention ! lovely and useful as 
the Prince on whose foot it sparkled. At his first appearance at a 
court ball, we read that " his coat was pink silk, with white cuffs ; his 
waistcoat white silk, embroidered with various-coloured foil, and 
adorned with a profusion of French paste. And his hat was 
ornamented with two rows of steel beads, five thousand in number, 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 107 

with a button and loop of the same metal, and cocked in a new 
military style." What a Florizel ! Do these details seem trivial ? 
They are the grave incidents of his life. His biographers say that 
when he commenced housekeeping in that splendid new palace of 
his, the Prince of Wales had some windy projects of encouraging 
literature, science, and the arts; of having assemblies of literary 
characters ; and societies for the encouragement of geography, 
astronomy, and botany. Astronomy, geography, and botany ! Fiddle- 
sticks ! French ballet-dancers, French cooks, horse-jockeys, buffoons, 
procurers, tailors, boxers, fencing-masters, china, jewel, and gimcrack 
merchants — these were his real companions. At first he made a pre- 
tence of having Burke and Fox and Sheridan for his friends. But 
how could such men be serious before such an empty scapegrace as 
this lad ? Fox might talk dice with him, and Sheridan wine ; but 
what else had these men of genius in common with their tawdry 
young host of Carlton House ? That fribble the leader of such men 
as Fox and Burke ! That man's opinions about the constitution, the 
India Bill, justice to the Catholics — about any question graver than 
the button for a waistcoat or the sauce for a partridge — ^worth 
anything ! The friendship between the Prince and the Whig chiefs 
was impossible. They were hypocrites in pretending to respect him, 
and if he broke the hollow compact between them, who shall blame 
him? His natural companions were dandies and parasites. He 
could talk to a tailor or a cook ; but, as the equal of great statesmen, 
to set up a creature, lazy, weak, indolent, besotted, of monstrous 
vanity, and levity incurable — it is absurd. They thought to use him, 
and did for awhile ; but they must have known how timid he 
was ; how entirely heartless and treacherous, and have expected his 
desertion. His next set of friends were mere table companions, of 
whom he grew tired too ; then we hear of him with a very few select 
toadies, mere boys from school or the Guards, whose sprightliness 
tickled the fancy of the worn-out voluptuary. What matters what 
friends he had ? He dropped all his friends ; he never could have 
real friends. An heir to the throne has flatterers, adventurers who 



io8 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

hang about him, ambitious men who use him; but friendship is 
denied him. 

And women, I suppose, are as false and selfish in their dealings 
with such a character as men. Shall we take the Leporello part, 
flourish a catalogue of the conquests of this royal Don Juan, and tell 
the names of the favourites to whom, one after the other, George 
Prince flung his pocket-handkerchief? AVhat purpose would it 
answer to say how Perdita was pursued, won, deserted, and by whom 
succeeded? AVhat good in knowing that he did actually marry 
Mrs. Fitz-Herbert according to the rites of the Roman Catholic 
Church ; that her marriage settlements have been seen in London j 
that the names of the witnesses to her marriage are known. This 
sort of vice that we are now come to presents no new or fleeting 
trait of manners. Debauchees, dissolute, heartless, fickle, cowardly, 
have been ever since the world began. This one had more 
temptations than most, and so much may be said in extenuation 
for him. 

It was an unlucky thing for this doomed one, and tending to lead 
him yet farther on the road to the deuce, that, besides being lovel}^ 
so that women were fascinated by him ; and heir-apparent, so that all 
the world flattered him ; he should have a beautiful voice, which led 
him directly in the way of drink : and thus all the pleasant devils 
were coaxing on poor Florizel ; desire, and idleness, and vanity, and 
drunkenness, all clashing their merry cymbals and bidding him 
come on. 

We first hear of his warbling sentimental ditties under the walls of 
Kew Palace by the moonlight banks of Thames, with Lord Viscount 
leporello keeping watch lest the music should be disturbed. 

Singing after dinner and supper was the universal fashion of the 
day. You may fancy all England sounding with choruses, some 
ribald, some harmless, but all occasioning the consumption of a 
prodigious deal of fermented liquor. 

** The jolly Muse her wings to try no frolic flights need take, 

But round the bowl would dip and fly, like swallows round a lake, " 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 109 

sang Morris in one of his gallant Anacreontics, to which the Prince 
many a time joined in chorus, and of which the burden is, — 

** And that I th ink's a reason fair to drink and fill again." 

This delightful boon companion of the Prince's found " a reason 
fair " to forego filling and drinking, saw the error of his ways, gave up 
the bowl and chorus, and died retired and religious. The Prince's 
table no doubt was a very tempting one. The wits came and did 
their utmost to amuse him. It is wonderful how the spirits rise, the 
wit brightens, the wine has an aroma, when a great man is at the head 
of the table. Scott, the loyal cavalier, the king's true liegeman, the 
very best raconteur of his time, poured out with an endless generosity 
his store of old-world learning, kindness, and humour. Grattan 
contributed to it his wondrous eloquence, fancy, feeling. Tom Moore 
perched upon it for awhile, and piped his most exquisite little love- 
tunes on it, flying away in a twitter of indignation afterwards, and 
attacking the Prince with bill and claw. In such society, no wonder 
the sitting was long, and the butler tired of drawing corks. Remember 
what the usages of the time were, and that William Pitt, coming to 
the House of Commons after having drunk a bottle of port-wine at 
his own house, would go into Bellamy's with Dundas, and help finish 
a couple more. 

You peruse volumes after volumes about our Prince, and find 
some half-dozen stock stories — indeed not many more — common to 
all the histories. He was good-natured ; an indolent, voluptuous 
prince, not unkindly. One story, the most favourable to him of all, 
perhaps, is that as Prince Regent he was eager to hear all that could 
be said in behalf of prisoners condemned to death, and anxious, if 
possible, to remit the capital sentence. He was kind to his servants. 
There is a story common to all the biographies, of Molly the house- 
maid, who, when his household was to be broken up, owing to some 
reforms which he tried absurdly to practise, was discovered crying as 
she dusted the chairs because she was to leave a master who had a 
kind word for all his servants. Another tale is that of a groom of the 



no THE FOUR GEORGES. 

Prince's being discovered in com and oat peculations, and dismissed 
by the personage at the head of the stables ; the Prince had word of 
John's disgrace, remonstrated with him very kindly, generously rein- 
stated him, and bade him promise to sin no more — a promise which 
John kept Another story is very fondly told of the Prince as a young 
man hearing of an officer's family in distress, and how he straightway 
borrowed six or eight hundred pounds, put his long fair hair under 
his hat, and so disguised carried the money to the starving family. 
He sent money, too, to Sheridan on his death-bed, and would have 
sent more had not death ended the career of that man of genius. 
Besides these, there are a few pretty speeches, kind and graceful, to 
persons with whom he was brought in contact. But he turned upon 
twenty friends. He was fond and familiar with them one day, and 
he passed them on the next without recognition. He used them, 
liked them, loved them perhaps in his way, and then separated from 
them. On Monday he kissed and fondled poor Perdita, and on 
Tuesday he met her and did not know her. On Wednesday he was 
very affectionate with that wretched Bmmmell, and on Thursday 
forgot him ; cheated him even out of a snuff-box which he owed the 
poor dandy ; saw him years afterwards in his downfall and poverty, 
when the bankrupt Beau sent him another snuff-box with some of the 
snuff he used to love, as a piteous token of remembrance and sub- 
mission, and the King took the snuff, and ordered his horses and 
drove on, and had not the grace to notice his old companion, favourite, 
rival, enemy, superior. In Wraxall there is some gossip about him. 
AVhen the charming, beautiful, generous Duchess of Devonshire died 
— the lovely lady whom he used to call his dearest duchess once, and 
pretend to admire as all English society admired her — he said, " Then 
we have lost the best bred woman in England." ** Then we have lost 
the kindest heart in England," said noble Charles Fox. On another 
occasion, when three noblemen were to receive the Garter, says 
Wraxall, "A great personage observed that never did three men 
receive the order in so characteristic a manner. The Duke of A. 
advanced to the sovereign with a phlegmatic, cold, awkward air like 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. iii 

a clown ; Lord B. came forward fawning and smiling like a courtier ; 
Lord C. presented himself easy, unembarrassed, like a gentleman ! " 
These are the stories one has to recall about the Prince and King — 
kindness to a housemaid, generosity to a groom, criticism on a bow. 
There are no better stories about him : they are mean and trivial, and 
they characterize him. The great war of empires and giants goes on. 
Day by day victories are won and lost by the brave. Tom, smoky 
flags and battered eagles are wrenched from the heroic enemy and 
laid at his feet ; and he sits there on his throne and smiles, and gives 
the guerdon of valour to the conqueror. He ! Elliston the actor, 
when the Coronation was performed, in which he took the principal 
part, used to fancy himself the King, burst into tears, and hiccup a 
blessing on the people. I believe it is certain about George IV., 
that he had heard so much of the war, knighted so many people, and 
worn such a prodigious quantity of marshal's uniforms, cocked-hats, 
cock's feathers, scarlet and bullion in general, that he actually fancied 
he had been present in some campaigns, and, under the name of 
General Brock, led a tremendous charge of the German legion at 
Waterloo. 

He is dead but thirty years, and one asks how a great society 
could have tolerated him? AVould we bear him now? In this 
quarter of a century, what a silent revolution has been working ! how 
it has separated us from old times and manners ! How it has changed 
men themselves ! I can see old gentlemen now among us, of perfect 
good breeding, of quiet lives, >vith venerable grey heads, fondling 
their grandchildren ; and look at them, and wonder at what they were 
once. That gentleman of the grand old school, when he was in the 
loth Hussars, and dined at the Prince's table, would fall under it 
night after night. Night after night, that gentleman sat at Brookes's 
or Raggett's over the dice. If, in the petulance of play or drink, that 
gentleman spoke a sharp word to his neighbour, he and the other 
would infallibly go out and try to shoot each other the next morning. 
That gentleman would drive his friend Richmond the black boxer 
down to Moulsey, and hold his coat, and shout and swear, and 



112 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

hurrah with delight, whilst the black man was beating Dutch Sam the 
Jew. That gentleman would take a manly pleasure in pulling his 
own coat off, and thrashing a bargeman in a street row. That gentle- 
man has been in a watch-house. That gentleman, so exquisitely 
polite with ladies in a drawing-room, so loftily courteous, if he talked 
now as he used among men in his youth, would swear so as to make 
your hair stand on end. I met lately a very old German gentleman, 
who had served in our army at the beginning of the century. Since 
then he has lived on his own estate, but rarely meeting with an 
Englishman, whose language — the language of fifty years ago that is — 
he possesses perfectly. When this highly bred old man began to 
speak English to me, almost every other word he uttered was an oath : 
as they used (they swore dreadfully in Flanders) with the Duke of 
York before Valenciennes, or at Carlton House over the supper and 
cards. Read Byron's letters. So accustomed is the young man to 
oaths that he employs them even in wTiting to his friends, and swears 
by the post. Read his account of tlie doings of young men at 
Cambridge, of the ribald professors, one of whom " could pour out 
Greek like a drunken Helot,'* and whose excesses surpassed even 
those of the young men. Read Matthews' description of the boyish 
lordling's housekeeping at Newstead, the skull-cup passed round, the 
monk's dresses from the masquerade warehouse, in which the young 
scapegraces used to sit until daylight, chanting appropriate songs 
round their wine. "We come to breakfast at two or tliree o'clock,'* 
Matthews says. " There are gloves and foils for those who like to 
amuse themselves, or we fire pistols at a mark in the hall, or we worry 
the wolf" A jolly life truly ! The noble young owner of the 
mansion writes about such affairs himself in letters to his friend, 
Mr. John Jackson, pugilist, in London. 

All the Prince's time tells a similar strange story of manners and 
pleasure. In Wraxall we find the Prime Minister himself, the 
redoubted William Pitt, engaged in high jinks with personages of no 
less importance than Lord Thurlow the Lord Chancellor, and Mr. 
Dundas the Treasurer of the Navy. Wraxall relates how these three 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 113 

statesmen, returning after dinner from Addiscombe, found a turnpike 
open and galloped through it without pa5dng the toll. The turnpike- 
man, fancying they were highwaymen, fired a blunderbuss after them, 
but missed them ; and the poet sang, — 

" How as Pitt wandered darkling o*er the plain, 
His reason drown'd in Jenkinson*s champagne, 
A rustic's hand, but righteous fate withstood, 
Had shed a premier's for a robber's blood.*' 

Here we have the Treasurer of the Navy, the Lord High Chancellor, 
and the Prime Minister, all engaged in a most undoubted lark. In 
Eldon's " Memoirs," about the very same time, I read that the bar 
loved wine, as well as the woolsack. Not John Scott himself; he 
was a good boy always ; and though he loved port-wine, loved his 
business and his duty and his fees a great deal better. 

He has a Northern Circuit story of those days, about a party at 
the house of a certain Lawyer Fawcett, who gave a dinner every year 
to the counsel. 

" On one occasion," related Lord Eldon, ** I heard Lee say, ' I 
cannot leave Fawcett's wine. Mind, Davenport, you will go home 
immediately after dinner, to read the brief in that cause that we have 
to conduct to-morrow.' " 

" *■ Not I,* said Davenport * Leave my dinner and my wine to 
read a brief! No, no, Lee ; that won't do.' 

" * Then,' said Lee, * what is to be done ? who else is employed ? ' 

" Davenport, — * Oh ! young Scott.' 

" Lee, — * Oh ! he must go. Mr. Scott, you must go home immedi- 
ately, and make yourself acquainted with that cause, before our con- 
sultation this evening.* 

" This was very hard upon me ; but I did go, and there was an 
attorney from Cumberland, and one from Northumberland, and I do 
not know how many other persons. Pretty late, in came Jack Lee, 
as drunk as he could be. 

" * I cannot consult to-night ; I must go to bed,' he exclaimed, 
and away he went. Then came Sir Thomas Davenport. 

8 



114 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

" ' We cannot have a consultation to-night, Mr. Wordsworth ' 
(Wordsworth, I think, was the name ; it was a Cumberland name), 
shouted Davenport * Don't you see how drunk Mr. Scott is ? it is 
impossible to consult' Poor me ! who had scarce had any dinner, 
and lost all my wine — I was so drunk that I could not consult ! 
Well, a verdict was given against us, and it was all o^ving to Lawyer 
Fawcett's dinner. We moved for a new trial ; and I must say, for 
the honour of the bar, that those two gentlemen. Jack Lee and Sir 
Thomas Davenport, paid all the expenses between them of the first 
trial It is the only instance I ever knew ; but they did. We moved 
for a new trial (on the ground, I suppose, of the counsel not being in 
their senses), and it was granted. When it came on, the following 
year, the judge rose and said, — 

" * Gentlemen, did any of you dine with Lawyer Fawcett yester- 
day ? for, if you did, I will not hear this cause till next year.' 
" There was great laughter. We gained the cause that time." 
On another occasion, at Lancaster, where poor Eozzy must needs 
be going the Northern Circuit, " we found him," says Mr. Scott, " lying 
upon the pavement inebriated. We subscribed a guinea at supper 
for him, and a half-crown for his clerk " — (no doubt there was a large 
bar, so that Scott's joke did not cost him much), — " and sent him, 
when he waked next morning, a brief, with instructions to move for 
what we denominated the writ of ^uare adhcesit pavimento ? with 
observations duly calculated to induce him to think that it required 
great learning to explain the necessity of granting it, to the judge 
before whom he was to move." Boswell sent all round tlie town to 
attorneys for books that might enable him to distinguish himself — ^but 
in vain. He moved, however, for the writ, making the best use he 
could of the observations in the brief. The judge was perfectly 
astonished, and the audience amazed. The judge said, " I never 
heard of such a writ — what can it be that adheres pavimetito ? Are 
any of you gentlemen at the bar able to explain this ? " 
The bar laughed. At last one of them said, — 
" My lord, Mr. Boswell last night adhcesit pavimento. There was 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 115 

no moving him for some time. At last he was carried to bed, and he 
has been dreaming about himself and the pavement." 

The canny old gentleman relishes these jokes. WTien the Bishop 
of Lincoln was moving from the deanery of St. PauPs, he says he 
asked a learned friend of his, by name Will Hay, how he should move 
some especially fine claret, about which he was anxious. 

" Pray, my lord bishop," says Hay, " how much of the wine 
have you ? " 

The bishop said six dozen. 

" If that is all," Hay answered, " you have but to ask me six times 
to dinner, and I will carry it all away myself." 

There were giants in those days ; but this joke about wine is not 
so fearful as one perpetrated by Orator Thelwall, in the heat of the 
French Revolution, ten years later, over a frothing pot of porter. He 
blew the head off, and said, " This is the way I would serve all kings." 

Now we come to yet higher personages, and find their doings 
recorded in the blushing pages of timid litde Miss Bumey's " Memoirs." 
She represents a prince of the blood in quite a royal condition. The 
loudness, the bigness, boisterousness, creaking boots and rattling 
oaths of the young princes, appear to have frightened the prim 
household of Windsor, and set all the teacups twittering on the tray. 
On the night of a ball and birthday, when one of the pretty, kind 
princesses was to come out, it was agreed that her brother. Prince 
W^illiam Henry, should dance the opening minuet with her, and he 
cnme to visit the household at their dinner. 

" At dinner, Mrs. Schwellenberg presided, attired magnificently ; 
Miss Goldsworthy, Mrs. Stanforth, Messrs. Du Luc and Stanhope, 
dined with us; and while we were still eating fruit, the Duke of 
Clarence entered. 

"He was just risen from the King's table, and waiting for his 
equipage to go home and prepare for the ball. To give you an idea 
of the energy of his Royal Highnesses language, I ought to set apart an 
objection to writing, or rather intimating, certain forcible words, and 
beg leave to show you in genuine colours a royal sailor. 



Ii6 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

" We all rose, of course, upon his entrance, and the two gentle- 
men placed themselves behind their chairs, while the footmen left the 
room. But he ordered us all to sit down, and called the men back 
to hand about some wine. He was in exceeding high spirits, and in 
the utmost good humour. He placed himself at the head of the 
table, next Mrs. Schwellenberg, and looked remarkably well, gay, 
and full of sport and mischief; yet clever withal, as well as 
comical. 

" * Well, tliis is the first day I have ever dined with the King at 
St. James's on his birthday. Pray, have you all drunk his Majesty's 
health ? ' 

" ' No, your Royal Highness ; your Royal Highness might make 
dem do dat,' said Mrs. Schwellenberg. 

" * Oh, by , I will ! Here, you " (to the footman), " bring 

champagne ; I'll drink the King's health again, if I die for it. Yes, I 
have done it pretty well already ; so has the King, I promise you 1 I 
believe his Majesty was never taken such good care of before ; we 
have kept his spirits up, I promise you ; we have enabled him to go 
through his fatigues ; and I should have done more still, but for the 
ball and Mary ; — I have promised to dance with Mary. I must keep 
sober for Mary.*" 

Indefatigable Miss Bumey continues for a dozen pages reporting 
H.R.H.*s conversation, and indicating, with a humour not unworthy 
of the clever little author of " Evelina," the increasing state of excite- 
ment of the young sailor Prince, who drank more and more cham- 
pagne, stopped old Mrs. Schwellenberg's remonstrances by giving the 
old lady a kiss, and telling her to hold her potato-trap, and who did 
not " keep sober for Mary." Mary had to find another partner that 
night, for the royal William Henry could not keep his legs. 

Will you have a picture of the amusements of another royal 
prince? It is the Duke of York, the blundering general, the beloved 
commander-in-chief of the army, the brother with whom George IV. 
had had many a midnight carouse, and who continued his habits of 
pleasure almost till death seized his stout body. 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 117 

In Piickler Muskau's " Letters," that German Prince describes a 
bout with H.R.H., who in his best time was such a powerful toper 
that "six bottles of claret after dinner scarce made a perceptible 
change in his countenance.*' 

" I remember," says Piickler, " that one evening, — indeed, it was 
past midnight, — he took some of. his guests, among whom were the 
Austrian ambassador. Count Meervelt, Count Beroldingen, and myself, 
into his beautiful armoury. We tried to swing several Turkish 
sabres, but none of us had a very firm grasp ; whence it happened 
that the Duke and Meervelt both scratched themselves with a sort of 
straight Indian sword so as to draw blood. Meervelt then wished to 
try if the sword cut as well as a Damascus, and attempted to cut 
through one of the wax candles that stood on the table. The 
experiment answered so ill, that both the candles, candlesticks and 
all, fell to the ground and were extinguished. While we were 
groping in the dark and trying to find the door, the Duke's aide- 
de-camp stammered out in great agitation, ^ By G — , sir, I remember 
the sword is poisoned ! * 

" You may conceive the agreeable feelings of the wounded at this 
intelligence ! Happily, on further examination, it appeared that claret, 
and not poison, was at the bottom of the colonel's exclamation." 

And now I have one more story of the bacchanalian sort, in 
which Clarence and York, and the very highest personage of the 
realm, the great Prince Regent, all play parts. The feast took place 
at the Pavilion at Brighton, and was described to me by a gentleman 
who was present at the scene. In Gilray's caricatures, and amongst 
Fox's jolly associates, there figures a great nobleman, the Duke of 
Norfolk, called Jockey of Norfolk in his time, and celebrated for his 
table exploits. He had quarrelled with the Prince, like the rest of 
the Whigs ; but a sort of reconciliation had taken place ; and now, 
being a very old man, the Prince invited him to dine and sleep at 
the Pavilion, and the old Duke drove over from his Castle of Arundel 
with his famous equipage of grey horses, still remembered in Sussex. 

The Prince of Wales had concocted with his royal brothers a 



ii8 THE _ FOUR GEORGES. 

notable scheme for making the old man drunk. Every person at 
table was enjoined to drink wine with the Duke — a challenge which 
the old toper did not refuse. He soon began to see that there was a 
conspiracy against him ; he drank glass for glass ; he overthrew 
many of the brave. At last the First Gentleman of Europe proposed 
bumpers of brandy. One of the royal brothers filled a great glass for 
the Duke. He stood up and tossed off tlie drink. " Now/' says he, 
** I will have my carriage, and go home." The Prince urged upon 
him his previous promise to sleep under the roof where he had been 
so generously entertained. " No," he said ; he had had enough of 
such hospitality. A trap had been set for him ; he would leave the 
place at once and never enter its doors more. 

The carriage was called, and came ; but, in the half-hour's 
inter\'al, the liquor had proved too potent for the old man ; his host's 
generous purpose was answered, and the Duke's old grey head lay 
stupefied on the table. Nevertheless, when his post-chaise was 
announced, he staggered to it as well as he could, and stumbling in, 
bade the postilions drive to Anmdel. They drove him for half an 
hour round and round the Pavilion lawn ; the poor old man fancied 
he was going home. When he awoke that morning he was in bed at 
the Prince's hideous house at Brighton. You may see the place now 
for sixpence : they have fiddlers there every day ; and sometimes 
buffoons and mountebanks hire the Riding House and do their tricks 
and tumbling there. The trees are still there, and the gravel walks 
round which the poor old sinner was trotted. I can fancy the flushed 
faces of the royal princes as they support themselves at the portico 
pillars, and look on at old Norfolk's disgrace ; but I can't fancy how 
the man who perpetrated it continued to be called a gentleman. 

From drinking, the pleased Muse now turns to gambling, of 
which in his youth our Prince was a great practitioner. He was a 
famous pigeon for the play-men; they hved upon him. Egalit^ 
Orleans, it was believed, punished him severely. A noble lord, 
whom we shall call the Marquis of Steyne, is said to have mulcted 
him in immense sums. He frequented the clubs, where play was 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 119 

then almost universal ; and, as it was known his debts of honour were 
sacred, whilst he was gambling Jews waited outside to purchase his 
notes of hand. His transactions on the turf were unlucky as 
well as discreditable : though I believe he, and his jockey, and 
his horse. Escape, were all innocent in that affair which created so 
much scandal. 

Arthur's, Almack*s, Bootle's, and White's were the chief clubs of 
the young* men of fashion. There was play at all, and decayed noble- 
men and broken-down senators fleeced the unwary there. In Selwyn s 
" Letters " we find Carlisle, Devonshire, Coventr)', Queensberry, all 
undergoing the probation. Charles Fox, a dreadful gambler, was 
cheated in very late times — lost 200,000/. at play. Gibbon tells of 
his playing for twenty-two hours at a sitting, and losing 500Z. an hour. 
That indomitable punter said that the greatest pleasure in life, after 
\vinning, was losing. AVhat hours, what nights, what health did he 
waste over the devil's books ! I was going to say what peace of 
mind ; but he took his losses very philosophically. After an awful 
night's play, and the enjoyment of the greatest pleasure but one in life, 
he was found on a sofa tranquilly reading an Eclogue of Virgil. 

Play survived long after the wild Prince and Fox had given up 
the dice-box. The dandies continued it Byron, Brummeil — how 
many names could I mention of men of the world who have suffered 
by it ! In 1837 occurred a famous trial which pretty nigh put an end 
to gambling in England. A peer of the realm was found cheating at 
whist, and repeatedly seen to practise the trick called sauter la coupe. 
His friends at the clubs saw him cheat, and went on playing witli 
him. One greenhorn, who had discovered his foul play, asked an 
old hand what he should do. " Do," said the Mammon of 
Unrighteousness, " Back him^ you fool^ The best efforts were made 
to screen him. People wrote him anonymous letters and warned 
him ; but he would cheat, and they were obliged to find him out 
Since that day, when my lord's shame was made public, the gaming- 
table has lost all its splendour. Shabby Jews and blacklegs prowl 
about racecourses and tavern parlours, and now and then inveigle 



I20 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

silly yokels with greasy packs of cards in railroad cars ; but Play is a 
deposed goddess, her worshippers bankrupt and her table in rags. 

So is another famous British institution gone to decay — the Ring : 
the noble practice of British boxing, which in my youth was stil 
almost flourishing. 

The Prince, in his early days, was a great patron of this national 
sport, as his grand-uncle Culloden Cumberland had been before him \ 
but, being present at a fight at Brighton, where one of the combatants 
was killed, the Prince pensioned the boxer's >vidow, and declared he 
never would attend another battle. " But, nevertheless," — I read in 
the noble language of Pierce Egan (whose smaller work on Pugilism 
I have the honour to possess), — ** he thought it a manly and decided 
English feature, which ought not to be destroyed. His Majesty had 
a drawing of the sporting characters in the Fives* Court placed in his 
boudoir, to remind him of his former attachment and support of true 
courage ; and when any fight of note occurred after he was king, 
accounts of it were read to him by his desire." That gives one a 
fine image of a king taking his recreation ; — at ease in a royal 
dressing-gown; — too majestic to read himself, ordering the prime 
minister to read him accounts of battles : how Cribb punched 
Molyneux*s eye, or Jack Randall thrashed the Game Chicken. 

Where my Prince did actually distinguish himself was in driving. 
He drove once in four hours and a half from Brighton to Carlton 
House — fifty-six miles. . All the young men of that day were fond of 
that sport. But the fashion of rapid driving deserted England ; and, 
I believe, trotted over to America. Where are the amusements of 
our youth? I hear of no gambling now but amongst obscure 
ruffians ; of no boxing but amongst the lowest rabble. One solitary 
four-in-hand still drove round the parks in London last year ; 
but that charioteer must soon disappear. He was very old ; he was 
attired after the fashion of the year 1825. He must drive to the 
banks of Styx ere long, — where the ferry-boat waits to carry him 
over to the defunct revellers who boxed and gambled and drank and 
drove with King George. 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 121 

The bravery of the Brunswicks, that all the family must have it, 
that George possessed it, are points which all English writers have 
agreed to admit ; and yet I cannot see how George IV. should have 
been endowed with this quality. Swaddled in feather-beds all his 
life, lazy, obese, perpetually eating and drinking, his education was 
quite unlike that of his tough old progenitors. His grandsires had 
confronted hardship and war, and ridden up and fired their pistols 
undaunted into the face of death. His father had conquered luxury 
and overcome indolence. Here was one who never resisted 
any temptation ; never had a desire but he coddled and pampered it ; 
if ever he had any nerve, frittered it away among cooks, and tailors, 
and barbers, and furniture-mongers, and opera-dancers. What 
muscle would not grow flaccid in such a life — a life that was never 
strung up to any action — an endless Capua without any campaign — 
all fiddling, and flowers, and feasting, and flattery, and folly ? AVhen 
George III. was pressed by the Catholic question and the India Bill, 
he said he would retire to Hanover rather than yield upon either 
point ; and he would have done what he said. But, before yielding, 
he was determined to fight his Ministers and Parliament; and he 
did, and he beat them. The time came when George IV. was 
pressed too upon the Catholic claims ; the cautious Peel had 
slipped over to that side; the grim old Wellington had joined it; 
and Peel tells us, in his " Memoirs," what was the conduct of the 
King. He at first refused to submit ; whereupon Peel and the Duke 
offered their resignations, which their gracious master accepted. He 
did these t^vo gentlemen the honour, Peel says, to kiss them both 
when they went away. (Fancy old Arthur's grim countenance and 
eagle beak as the monarch kisses it !) When they were gone he sent 
after them, surrendered, and wrote to them a letter begging them to 
remain in office, and allowing them to have their way. Then his 
Majesty had a meeting with Eldon, which is related at curious length 
in the latter's " Memoirs." He told Eldon what was not true about 
his interview with the new Catholic converts ; utterly misled the old 
ex-Chancellor ; cried, whimpered, fell on his neck, and kissed him 



122 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

t 

t 

too. We know old Eldon's own tears were pumped very freely. Did 
these two fountains gush together ? I can*t fancy a behaviour more 
unmanly, imbecile, pitiable. This a defender of the faith ! This a 
chief in the crisis of a great nation ! This an inheritor of the courage 
of the Georges ! 

Many of my hearers no doubt have journeyed to the pretty old 
town of Brunswick, in company with that most worthy, prudent, and 
polite gentleman, the Earl of Malmesbury, and fetched away 
Princess Caroline for her longing husband, the Prince of Wales. 
Old Queen Charlotte would have had her eldest son marry a niece 
of her own, that famous Louisa of Strelitz, aftenvards Queen of 
Prussia, and who shares with Marie Antoinette in the last age the 
sad pre-eminence of beauty and misfortune. But George III. had a 
niece at Brunswick : she was a richer princess than her Serene 
Highness of Strelitz : — in fine, the Princess Caroline was selected to 
marry the heir to the English throne. We follow my Lord Malmes- 
bury in quest of her ; we are introduced to her illustrious father and 
royal mother; we witness the balls and f^tes of the old court ; we are 
presented to the Princess herself, with her fair hair, her blue eyes, 
and her impertinent shoulders — a lively, bouncing, romping Princess, 
who takes the advice of her courtly English mentor most generously 
and kindly. AVe can be present at her very toilette, if we like ; 
regarding which, and for very good reasons, the British courtier 
implores her to be particular. What a strange court ! What a 
queer privacy of morals and manners do we look into ! Shall we 
regard it as preachers and moralists, and cry Woe, against the open 
vice and selfishness and corruption ; or look at it as we do at the 
king in the pantomime, with his pantomime wife and pantomime 
courtiers, whose big heads he knock% together, whom he pokes with 
his pantomime sceptre, whom he orders to prison under the guard of 
his pantomime beefeaters, as he sits down to dine on his pantomime 
pudding ? It is grave, it is sad ; it is theme most curious for moral 
and political speculation ; it is monstrous, grotesque, laughable, with 
its prodigious littlenesses, etiquettes, ceremonials, sliam moralities ; it 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 123 

is as serious as a sermon, and as absurd and outrageous as Punch's 
puppet-show. 

Malmesbury tells us of the private life of the Duke, Princess 
Caroline's father, who was to die, like his warlike son, in arms against 
the French ; presents us to his courtiers, his favourite ; his Duchess, 
George III.'s sister, a grim old Princess, who took the British envoy 
aside, and told him wicked old stories of wicked old dead people and 
times; who came to England afterwards when her nephew was 
regent, and lived in a shabby furnished lodging, old, and dingy, and 
deserted, and grotesque, but somehow royal. And we go with him 
to the Duke to demand the Princess's hand in form, and we hear the 
Brunswick guns fire their adieux of salute, as H.R.H. the Princess 
of Wales departs in the frost and snow ; and we visit the domains of 
the Prince Bishop of Osnaburg— the Duke of York of our early 
time ; and we dodge about from the French revolutionists, whose 
ragged legions are pouring over Holland and Germany, and gaily 
trampling down the old world to the tune of ^a ira; and we take 
shipping at Slade, and we land at Greenwich, where the Princess's 
ladies and the Prince's ladies are in waiting to receive her Royal 
Highness. 

What a history follows ! Arrived in London, the bridegroom 
hastened eagerly to receive his bride. "When she was first presented 
to him. Lord Malmesbury says she very properly attempted to kneel. 
He raised her gracefully enough, embraced her, and turning round to 
me, said, — 

" Harris, I am not well ; pray get me a glass of brandy." 
I said, ** Sir, had you not better have a glass of water? " 
Upon which, much out of humour, he said, with an oath, " No ; 
I will go to the Queen." 

What could be expected from a wedding which had such a 
beginning — from such a bridegroom and such a bride ? I am not 
going to carry you through the scandal of that story, or follow the 
poor Princess through all her vagaries ; her balls and her dances, her 
travels to Jerusalem and Naples, her jigs, and her junketing?, and her 



-124 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

tears. As I read her trial in history, I vote she is not guilty. I 
don't say it is an impartial verdict ; but as one reads her story the 
heart bleeds for the kindly, generous, outraged creature. If wrong 
there be, let it lie at his door who wickedly thrust her from it Spite 
of her follies, the great hearty people of England loved, and pro- 




tected, and pitied her. " God bless you ! wewill bring your husband 
back to you," said a mechanic one day, as she told Lady Charlotte 
Bury with tears streaming down her cheeks. They could not bring 
that husband back ; they could not cleanse that selfish heart Was 
hers the only one he had wounded f Steeped in selfishness, impotent 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 125 

for faithful attachment and manly enduring love, — had it not survived 
remorse, was it not accustomed to desertion ? 

Malmesbury gives us the beginning of the marriage story ; — ^how 
the Prince reeled into chapel to be married ; how he hiccupped out his 
vows of fidelity — you know how he kept them ; how he pursued the 
woman whom he had married ; to what a state he brought her; with what 
blows he struck her ; with what malignity he pursued her ; what his 
treatment of his daughter was ; and what his own life. He the first 
gentleman of Europe ! There is no stronger satire on the proud 
English society of that day, than that they admired George. 

No, thank God, we can tell of better gentlemen ; and whilst our 
eyes turn away, shocked, from this monstrous image of pride, vanity, 
weakness, they may see in that England over which the last George 
pretended to reign, some who merit indeed the title of gentlemen, 
some who make our hearts beat when we hear their names, and 
whose memory we fondly salute when that of yonder imperial 
manikin is tumbled into oblivion. I will take men of my own pro- 
fession of letters. I will take Walter Scott, who loved the King, and 
who was his sword and buckler, and championed him like that brave 
Highlander in his own story, who fights round his craven chief. 
What a good gentleman ! What a friendly soul, what a generous 
hand, what an amiable hfe was that of the noble Sir Walter 1 I will 
take another man of letters, whose life I admire even more, — an 
English worthy, doing his duty for fifty noble years of labour, day by 
day storing up learning, day by day working for scant wages, most 
charitable out of his small means, bravely faithful to the calling 
which he had chosen, refusing to turn from his path for popular 
praise or princes' favour ; — I mean Robert Southey, We have left his 
old political landmarks miles and miles behind ; we protest against 
his dogmatism ; nay, we begin to forget it and his politics : but I 
hope his life will not be forgotten, for it is sublime in its simplicity, 
its energy, its honour, its affection. In the combat between Time 
and Thalaba, I suspect the former destroyer has conquered. 
Kehama's curse frightens very few readers now; but Southey*s private 



126 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

letters are worth piles of epics, and are sure to last among us, as long 
as kind hearts like to sympathize with goodness and purity, and love 
and upright life. " If your feelings are like mine," he writes to his 
wife, " I \vill not go to Lisbon without you, or I will stay at home, 
and not part from you. For though not unhappy when away, still 
without you I am not liappy. For your sake, as well as my own and 
little Edith's, I will not consent to any separation ; the growth of a 
year's love between her and me, if it please God she should live, is a 
thing too delightful in itself, and too valuable in its consequences, to 
be given up for any light inconvenience on your part or mine. . . . 
On these things we will talk at leisure ; only, dear, dear Edith, we 
must not part r 

This was a poor literary gentleman. The First Gentleman in 
Europe had a wife and daughter too. Did he love them so ? Was 
he faithful to them ? Did he sacrifice ease for them, or show them 
the sacred examples of religion and honour? Heaven gave the 
Great English Prodigal no such good fortune. Peel proposed to 
make a baronet of Southey ; and to this advancement the King 
agreed. The poet nobly rejected the offered promotion. 

" I have," he wrote, " a pension of 200/. a year, conferred upon 
me by the good offices of my old friend C. Wynn, and I have the 
laureateship. The salary of the latter was immediately appropriated, 
as far as it went, to a life-insurance for 3,000/., which, with an earlier 
insurance, is the sole provision I have made for my family. All 
beyond must be derived from my own industry. Writing for a 
livelihood, a livelihood is all that I have gained ; for, having also 
something better in view, and never, therefore, having courted 
popularity, nor written for the mere sake of gain, it has not been 
possible for me to lay by anything. Last year, for the first time in 
my life, I was provided with a year's expenditure beforehand. This 
exposition may show how unbecoming and unwise it would be to 
accept the rank which, so greatly to my honour, you have solicited 
for me." 

How noble his poverty is, compared to the wealth of his master 1 



GEORGE THE FOURTH, 127 

His acceptance even of a pension was made the object of his 
opponents' satire : but think of the merit and modesty of this State 
pensioner ; and that other enormous drawer of public money, who 
receives 100,000/. a year, and comes to Parliament with a request for 
650,000/. more ! 

Another true knight of those days was Cuthbert Colling\vood ; 
and I think, since heaven made gentlemen, there is no record 
of a better one than that. Of brighter deeds, I grant you, we may 
read performed by others ; but where of a nobler, kinder, more 
beautiful Hfe of duty, of a gentler, truer heart? Beyond dazzle of 
success and blaze of genius, I fancy shining a hundred and a hundred 
times higher, the sublime purity of Collingwood*s gentle glory. His 
heroism stirs British hearts when we recall it. His love, and 
goodness, and piety make one thrill with happy emotion. As one 
reads of him and his great comrade going into the victory with which 
their names are immortally connected, how the old English word 
comes up, and that old English feeling of what I should like to call 
Christian honour ! AVhat gentlemen they were, what great hearts 
they had ! "We can, my dear Coll," writes Nelson to him, "have 
no little jealousies ; we have only one great object in view, — that of 
meeting the enemy, and getting a glorious peace for our country." 
At Trafalgar, when the " Royal Sovereign " was pressing alone into 
the midst of the combined fleets. Lord Nelson said to Captain 
Blackwood : " See how that noble fellow, Collingwood, takes his ship 
into action ! How I envy him ! " The very same throb and 
impulse of heroic generosity was beating in Collingwood*s honest 
bosom. As he led into the fight, he said : " What would Nelson 
give to be here ! " 

After the action of the ist of June, he writes : — " We cruised for 
a few days, like disappointed people looking for what they could not 
find, until the morning of little Sara/i's birthday^ between eight and 
nine o'clock, when the French fleet, of twenty-five sail of the line, 
was discovered to windward. We chased them, and they bore down 
within about five miles of us. The night was spent in watching and 



128 THE FOUR GEORGJ^S. 

preparation for the succeeding day ; and many a blessing did I send 
forth to my Sarah, lest I should never bless her more. At dawn, we 
made our approach on the enemy, then drew up, dressed our ranks, 
and it was about eight when the admiral made the signal for each 
ship to engage her opponent, and bring her to close action ; and then 
down we went under a crowd of sail, and in a manner that would 
have animated the coldest heart, and struck terror into the most 
intrepid enemy. The ship we were to engage was two ahead of the 
French admiral, so we had to go through his fire and that of two 
ships next to him, and received all tlieir broadsides two or three 
times, before we fired a gun. It was then near ten o'clock. I observed 
to the admiral, that about that time our wives were going to church, 
but that I thought the peal we should ring about the Frenchman's 
ear would outdo their parish bells." 

There are no words to tell what the heart feels in reading the 
simple phrases of such a hero. Here is victory and courage, but 
love sublimer and superior. Here is a Christian soldier spending 
the night before battle in watching and preparing for the succeeding 
day, thinking of his dearest home, and sending many blessings forth 
to his Sarah, " lest he should never bless her more." Who would 
not say Amen to his supplication? It was a benediction to his 
country — the prayer of that intrepid loving heart. 

We have spoken of a good soldier and good men of letters as 
specimens of English gentlemen of the age just past : may we not 
also — many of my elder hearers, I am sure, have read, and fondly 
remember his delightful story — speak of a good divine, and mention 
Reginald Heber as one of the best of English gentlemen? The 
charming poet, the happy possessor of all sorts of gifts and accom- 
plishments, birth, wit, fame, high character, competence — he was the 
beloved parish priest in his own home of Hoderel, " counselling his 
people in their troubles, advising them in their difficulties, comforting 
them in distress, kneeling often at their sick beds at the hazard of his 
own life ; exhorting, encouraging where there was need ; where there 
•was strife the peace-maker ; where there was want the firee giver." 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 129 

When the Indian bishopric was offered to him he refused at first ; 
but after communing with himself (and committing his case to the 
quarter whither such pious men are wont to carry their doubts), he 
withdrew his refusal, and prepared himself for his mission and to 
leave his beloved parish. "Little children, love one another, and 
forgive one another," were the last sacred words he said to his 
weeping people. He parted with them, knowing, perhaps, he should 
see them no more. Like those other good men of whom we have 
just spoken, love and duty were his life's aim. Happy he, happy 
they who w^re so gloriously faithful to both ! He writes to his wife 
those charming lines on his journey : — 

" If thou, my love, wert by my side, my babies at my knee, 
IIow gladly would our pinnace glide o*er Gunga*s mimic sea ! 

I miss thee at the dawning gray, when, on our deck reclined, 
In careless ease my limbs I lay and woo the cooler wind. 

I miss thee when by Gunga's stream my twilight steps I guide ; 
But most beneath the lamp's pale beam I miss thee by my side. 

I spread my books, my pencil try, the lingering noon to cheer ; 
But miss thy kind approving eye, thy meek attentive ear. 

But when of mom and eve the star beholds me on my knee, 
I feel, though thou art distant far, thy prayers ascend for me. 

Then on ! then on ! where duty leads my course be onward still,— 
O'er broad Ilindostan's sultry meads, o*er bleak Almorah*s hill. 

That course nor Delhi's kingly gates, nor wild Malwah detain, 
For sweet the bliss us both awaits by yonder western main. 

Thy towers, Bombay, gleam bright, they say, across the dark blue sea : 
But ne'er were hearts so blithe and gay as there shall meet in thee ! " 

Is it not Collingwood and Sarah, and Southey and Edith? His 
affection is part of his life. What were life without it ? Without 
love, I can fancy no gentleman. 

How touching is a remark Heber makes in his " Travels tlirough 
India," that on inquiring of the natives at a to\vn, which of the 
governors of India stood highest in the opinion of the people, he 
found that, though Lord Wellesley and Warren Hastings were 

9 



I30 THE FOUR GEORGES, 

honoured as the two greatest men who had ever ruled this part of 
the world, the people spoke with chief affection of Judge Cleave- 
land, who had died, aged twenty-nine, in 1784. The people have 
built a monument over him, and still hold a religious feast in his 
memory. So does his own country still tend with a hearths regard 
the memor}' of the gentle Heber. 

And Cleaveland died in 1784, and is still loved by the heathen, 
is he? Why, that year 1784 was remarkable in the life of our friend 
the First Gentleman of Europe. Do you not know that he was 
twenty-one in that year, and opened Carlton House with a grand ball 
to the nobility and gentry, and doubtless wore that lovely pink coat 
which we have described. I was eager to read about the ball, and 
looked to the old magazines for information. The entertainment 
took place on the loth Februar}-. In the European Magazine of 
March, 1784, I came straightway upon it : — 

" The alterations at Carlton House being finished, we lay before 
our readers a description of the state apartments as they appeared on 
the loth instant, when H.R.H. gave a grand ball to the principal 

nobility and gentry The entrance to the state room 

fills the mind with an inexpressible idea of greatness and splendour. 

" The state chair is of a gold frame, covered with crimson 
damask ; on each corner of the feet is a lion's head, expressive of 
fortitude and strength ; the feet of the chair have serpents twining 
round them, to denote wisdom. Facing the throne, appears the 
helmet of Minerva ; and over the windows, glory is represented by 
Saint George with a superb gloria, 

" But the saloon may be styled the chef d'ceuvre, and in every 
ornament discovers great invention. It is hung with a figured 
lemon satin. The window-curtains, sofas, and chairs are of the 
same colour. The ceiling is ornamented with emblematical paint- 
ings, representing the Graces and Muses, together with Jupiter, 
Mercury, Apollo, and Paris. Two ormolu chandeliers are placed 
here. It is impossible by expression to do justice to the extra- 
ordinary workmanship, as well as design, of the ornaments. They 



GEORGE THE FOURTH. 131 

each consist of a palm, branching out in five directions for the 
reception of lights. A beautiful figure of a rural njnnph is repre- 
sented entwining the stems of the tree with wreaths of flowers. In 
tlie centre of the room is a rich chandelier. To see this apartment 
dam son plus beau jour^ it should be viewed in the glass over the 
chimney-piece. The range of apartments from the saloon to the 
ball-room, when the doors are open, formed one of the grandest 
spectacles that ever was beheld." 

In the GentlemarCs Magazine, for the very same month and year 
— March, 1784 — is an account of another festival, in which another 
great gentleman of English extraction is represented as taking a 
principal share : — 

"According to order, H.K the Commander-in-Chief was admitted 
to a public audience of Congress ; and, being seated, the President, 
after a pause, informed him that the United States assembled were 
ready to receive his communications. Whereupon he arose, and 
spoke as follows : — 

" * Mr. President, — The great events on which my resignation 
depended having at length taken place, I present myself before 
Congress to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, 
and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the ser\'ice of my 
country. 

" * Happy in the confirmation of our independence and 
sovereignty, I resign the appointment I accepted with diffidence; 
which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of 
our cause, the support of the supreme power of the nation, and the 
patronage of Heaven. I close this last act of my official life, by 
commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of 
Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to 
His holy keeping. Having finished the work assigned me, I retire 
fi-om the great theatre of action ; and, bidding an aflfectionate fare- 
well to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I 
here offer my commission and take my leave of the employments of 
my public life.' To which the President replied : — 



132 THE FOUR GEORGES. 

" * Sir, having defended the standard of liberty in the New 
World, having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and those 
who feel oppression, you retire with the blessings of your fellow- 
citizens ; though the glory of your virtues will not terminate with 
your military command, but will descend to remotest ages.* " 

Which was the most splendid spectacle ever witnessed ; — the 
opening feast of Prince George in London, or the resignation of 
Washington ? Which is the noble character for after ages to admire ; 
— ^yon fribble dancing in lace and spangles, or yonder hero who 
sheathes his sword after a life of spotless honour, a purity imre- 
proached, a courage indomitable, and a consummate victory? 
Which of these is the true gentleman ? What is it to be a gentle- 
man? Is it to have lofty aims, to lead a pure life, to keep your 
honour virgin ; to have the esteem of your fellow-citizens, and the 
love of your fireside ; to bear good fortune meekly ; to sufier evil 
with constancy ; and through evil or good to maintain truth always ? 
Show me the happy man whose life exhibits these qualities, and him 
we will salute as gentleman, whatever his rank may be ; show me the 
prince who possesses them, and he may be sure of our love and 
loyalty. The heart of Britain still beats kindly for George III., — not 
because he was wise and just, but because he was pure in life, honest 
in intent, and because according to his lights he worshipped heaven. 
I think we acknowledge in the inheritrix of his sceptre, a wiser rule, 
and a life as honourable and pure ; and I am sure tlie future painter 
of our manners will pay a willing allegiance to that good life, and be 
loyal to the memory of that unsullied virtue. 



THE END OF "THE FOUR GEORGES." 



THE ENGLISH HUMOURISTS 



OF THE 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 



THE ENGLISH HUMOURISTS 

OF THE 

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 



SWIFT, 

IN treating of the English humourists of the past age, it is of the 
men and of their lives, rather than of their books^ that I ask 
permission to speak to you ; and in doing so, you are aware that I 
cannot hope to entertain you with a merely humourous or facetious 
story. Harlequin without his mask is known to present a very sober 
countenance, and was himself, the story goes, the melancholy patient 
whom the Doctor advised to go and see Harlequin * — a maii full of 
cares and perplexities like the rest of us, whose Self must always be 
serious to him, under whatever mask or disguise or uniform he 
presents it to the public. And as all of you here must needs be 
grave when you think of your own past and present, you will not 
look to find, in the histories of those whose lives and feelings I am 
going to try and describe to you, a story that is otherwise than 
serious, and often very sad. If Humour only meant laughter, you 
would scarcely feel more interest about humourous writers than 
about the private life of poor Harlequin just qpcntioned, who 
possesses in common with these the power of making you laugh. But 

♦ The anecdote is frequently told of our performer Rich. 



136 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

the men regarding whose lives and stories your kind presence here 
shows that you have curiosity and sympathy, appeal to a great 
number of our other faculties, besides our mere sense of ridicule. 
The humourous writer professes to awaken and direct yoiir love, your 
pity, your kindness — ^your scorn for untruth, pretension, imposture — 
your tenderness for the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the unhappy. 
To the best of his means and ability he comments on all the 
ordinary actions and passions of life almost. He takes upon himsel^ 
to be the week-day preacher, so to speaL Accordingly, as he finds, 
and speaks, and feels the truth best, we regard him, esteem him — 
sometimes love him. And, as his business is to mark other people's 
lives and peculiarities, we moralize upon his life when he is gone — 
and yesterday's preacher becomes the text for to-day*s sermon. 

Of English parents, and of a good English family of clergymen,* 
Swift was bom in Dublin in 1667, seven months after the death of 
his father, who had come to practise there as a lawyer. The boy 
went to school at Kilkenny, and afterwards to Trinity College, 
Dublin, where he got a degree with difficulty, and was wild, and witty, 
and poor. In 1688, by the recommendation of his mother, Swift 
was received into the family of Sir William Temple, who had kno\\'n 

* He was from a younger branch of the Swifts of Yorkshire. His grandfather, 
the Rev. Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, in Herefordshire, suffered for his loyalty 
in Charles I.'s time. That gentleman married Elizabeth Dryden, a member of the 
family of the poet. Sir Walter Scott gives, with his characteristic minuteness in 
such points, the exact relationship between these famous men. Swift was "the 
son of Dryden's second cousin." Swift, too, was the enemy of Dryden's reputa- 
tion. Witness the ** Battle of the Books :" — " The difference was greatest among 
the horse," says he of the modems, ** where every private trooper pretended to the 
command, from Tasso and Milton to Dryden and Withers." And in "Poetry, a 
Rhapsody," he advises the poetaster to — 

** Read all the Prefaces of Dryden, 
For these our critics much confide in, 
Though merely writ, at first for filling. 
To raise the volume's price a shilling." 

" Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet," was the phrase of Dryden to his kins- 
man, which remained alive in a memory tenacious of such matters. 



SIVIFT. 137 

Mrs. Swift in Ireland. He left his patron in 1693, and the next 
year took orders in Dublin. But he threw up the small Irish prefer- 
ment which he got and returned to Temple, in whose family he 
remained until Sir William's death in 1699. His hopes of advance- 
ment in England failing, Swift returned to Ireland, and took the 
living of Laracor. Hither he invited Hester Johnson,* Temple's 
natural daughter, with whom he had contracted a tender friendship, 
while they were both dependants of Temple's. And with an occa- 
sional visit to England, Swift now passed nine years at home. 

In 1709 he came to England, and, with a brief visit to Ireland, 
during which he took possession of his deanery of St Patrick, he 
now passed five years in England, taking the most distinguished part 
in the political transactions which terminated with the death of 
Queen Anne. After her death, his party disgraced, and his hopes of 
ambition over. Swift returned to Dublin, where he remained twelve 
years. In this time he \vrote the famous " Drapier's Letters" and 
*' Gulliver's Travels." He married Hester Johnson, Stella, and buried 
Esther Vanhomrigh, Vanessa, who had followed him to Ireland from 
London, where she had contracted a violent passion for him. In 
1726 and 1727 Swift was in England, which he quitted for the last 
time on hearing of his wife's illness. Stella died in January, 1728, 
and Swift not until 1745, having passed the last five of the seventy- 
eight years of his hfe with an impaired intellect and keepers to 
watch him.t 

You know, of course, that Swift has had many biographers ; his 
life has been told by the kindest and most good-natured of men, 

* ** Miss Hetty " she was called in the family — where her face, and her dress, 
and Sir William's treatment of her, all made the real fact about her birth plain 
enough. Sir William left her a thousand pounds. 

t Sometimes, during his mental affliction, he continued walking about the 
house for many consecutive hours ; sometimes he remained in a kind of torpor. A^ 
times, he would seem to struggle to bring into distinct consciousness, and shape 
into expression, the intellect that lay smothering under gloomy obstruction in him. 
A pier-glass falling by accident, nearly fell on him. He said he wished it had ! He 
once repeated slowly several times, " I am what I am." The last thing he wrote 



1 38 ENGLISH HUMO URISTS. 

Scott, who admires but can't bring himself to love him ; and by stout 
old Johnson,* who, forced to admit him into the company of poets, 
receives the famous Irishman, and takes off his hat to him with a 
bow of suriy recognition, scans him from head to foot, and passes 
over to the other side of the street Dr. Wilde of Dublin,t who has 
written a most interesting volume on tlie closing years of Swift's life, 
calls Johnson " the most malignant of his biographers : " it is not 
easy for an English critic to please Irishmen — perhaps to try and 

was an epigram on the building of a magazine for arms and stores, which was 
pointed out to him as he went abroad during his mental disease : — 

" Behold a proof of Irish sense : 
Here Irish wit is seen : 
When nothing*s left that's worth defence, 
They build a magazine I " 

* Besides these famous books of Scott's and Johnson's, there is a copious 
"Life" by Thomas Sheridan (Dr. Johnson's "Sherry"), father of Richard 
Brinsley, and son of that good-natured, clever Irish Dr. Thomas Sheridan, 
Swift's intimate, who lost his chaplaincy by so unluckily choosing for a text on the 
King's birthday, ** Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof! " Not to mention less 
important works, there is also the " Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. 
Jonathan Swift," by that polite and dignified writer, the Earl of Orrery. His 
lordship is said to have striven for literary renown, chiefly that he might make up 
for the slight passed on him by his father, who left his library away from him. It 
is to be feared that the ink he used to wash out that stain only made it look bigger. 
He had, however, known Swift, and corresponded with people who knew him. 
His work (which appeared in 1751) provoked a good deal of controversy, calling 
out, among other brochures^ the interesting "Observations on Lord Orrery's 
Remarks," &c., of Dr. Delany. 

t Dr. Wilde's book was written on the occasion of the remains of Swift and 
Stella being brought to the light of day — a thing which happened in 1835, when 
certain works going on in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, afforded an opportunity 
of their being examined. One hears with surprise of these skulls "going the 
rounds " of houses, and being made the objects of dilettante curiosity. The larynx 
of Swift was actually carried off ! Phrenologists had a low opinion of his intellect 
from the observations they took. 

Dr. Wilde traces the symptoms of ill health in Swift, as detailed in his writings 
from time to time. He observes, likewise, that the skull gave evidence of ** diseased 
action " of the brain during life — such as would be produced by an increasing 
tendency to "cerebral congestion." 



SWIFT, 139 

please them. And yet Johnson truly admires Swift : Johnson does 
not quarrel with Swift's change of politics, or doubt his sincerity of 
religion : about the famous Stella and Vanessa controversy the 
Doctor does not bear very hardly on Swift. But he could not give 
the Dean that honest hand of his ; the stout old man puts it into his 
breast, and moves off from him.* 

Would we have liked to live with him? That is a question which, 
in dealing with these people's works, and thinking of their] lives and 
peculiarities, every reader of biographies must put to himself. Would 
you have liked to be a friend of the great Dean ? I should like to 
have been Shakspeare*s shoeblack — ^just to have lived in his house, 
just to have worshipped him — to have run on his errands, and seen 
that sweet serene face. I should like, as a young man, to have lived 
on [Fielding's staircase in the Temple, and after helping him up ta 
bed perhaps, and opening his door with his latch-key, to have shaken 
hands with him in the morning, and heard him talk and crack jokes 
over his breakfast and his mug of small beer. Who would not give 
something to pass a night at the club with Johnson, and Goldsmith, 
and James Boswell, Esq., of Auchinleck ? The charm of Addison's 
companionship and conversation has passed to us by fond tradition — 
but Swift? If you had been his inferior in parts (and that, with 
a great respect for all persons present, I fear is only very likely), his 
equal in mere social station, he would have bullied, scorned, and 
insulted you ; if, undeterred by his great reputation, you had met him 
like a man, he would have quailed before you,t and not had the 

• **He [Dr. Johnson] seemed to me to have an unaccountable prejudice against 
Swift ; for I once took the liberty to ask him if Swift had personally offended him, 
and he told me he had not." — Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, 

+ Few men, to be sure, dared this experiment, but yet their success was encou- 
raging. One gentleman made a point of asking the Dean whether his uncle Godwin 
had not given him his education. Swift, who hated that subject cordially, and 
Indeed, cared little for his kindred, said, sternly, ** Yes ; he gave me the education 
of a dog.'* ** Then, sir," cried the other, striking his fist on the table, **you have 
not the gratitude of a dog ! " 

Other occasions there were when a bold face gave the Dean pause, even after 



HO ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

• 

pluck to reply, and gone home, and years after written a foul epigram 
about you — watched for you in a sewer, and come out to assail you 
with a coward's blow and a dirty bludgeon. If you had been a lord 
with a blue riband, who flattered his vanity, or could help his 
ambition, he would have been the most delightful company in the 
world. He would have been so manly, so sarcastic, so bright, ©dd, 
and original, that you might think he had no object in view but the 
indulgence of his humour, and that he was the most reckless, simple 
creature in the world. How he would have torn your enemies to 
pieces for you ! and made fun of the Opposition ! His servility was 
so boisterous that it looked like independence j * he would have 
done your errands, but with the air of patronizing you, and after 
fighting your battles, masked, in the street or the press, would have 
kept on his hat before your wife and daughters in the drawing-room, 
content to take that sort of pay for his tremendous services as a 
bravo, t 

his Irish almost-royal position was established. But he brought himself into greater 
danger on a certain occasion, and the amusing circumstances may be once more 
repeated here. He had unsparingly lashed the notable Dublin lawyer, Mr. Serjeant 
Bettesworth — 

** So at the bar, the booby Bettesworth, 

Though half-a-crown out-pays his sweat's worth, 

Who knows in law nor text nor margent, 

Calls Singleton his brother-serjeant ! " 

The Serjeant, it is said, swore to have his life. He presented himself at the deanery. 
The Dean asked his name. ** Sir, I am Serjeant Bett-es-worth." 

**/« what regimen t^ pray f " asked Swift. 

A guard of volunteers formed themselves to defend the Dean at this time. 

♦ " But, my Hamilton, I will never hide tlie freedom of my sentiments from 
yoiL I am much inclined to believe that the temper of my friend Swift might 
occasion his English friends to wish him happily and properly promoted at a 
distance. His spirit, for I would give it the proper name, was ever untractable. 
The motions of his genius were often irregular. He assumed mote the air of a 
patron than of a friend. He affected rather to dictate than advise." — Orrery. 

f **. . . . An anecdote, which, though only told by Mrs. Pilkington, is 
well attested, bears, that the last time he was in London he went to dine with the 
Earl of Burlington, who was but newly married. The Earl, it is supposed, being 



SWIFT, 141 

He says as much himself in one of his letters to Bolingbroke : — 
** All my endeavours to distinguish myself were only for want of a 
great title and fortune, that I might be used like a lord by those who 
have an opinion of my parts ; whether right or wrong is no great 
matter. And so the reputation of wit and great learning does the 
office of a blue riband or a coach and six." * 

Could there be a greater candour ? It is an outlaw, who says, 
" These are my brains ; with these I'll win titles and compete with 
fortune. These are my bullets; these I'll turn into gold;" and he 
hears the sound of coaches and six, takes the road like Macheath, 
and makes society stand and deliver. They are all on their knees 
before him. Down go my lord bishop's apron, and his Grace's blue 
riband, and my lady's brocade petticoat in the mud. He eases the 
one of a living, the other of a patent place, the third of a little snug 

willing to have a little diversion, did not introduce him to his lady nor mention his 
name. After dinner said the Dean, * Lady Burlington, I hear you can sing ; sing 
me a song.' The lady looked on this unceremonious manner of asking a favour 
with distaste, and positively refused. He said, * She should sing, or he would 
make her. Why, madam, I suppose you take me for one of your poor English 
hedge-parsons ; sing when I bid you.' As the Earl did nothing but laugh at this 
freedom, the lady was so vexed that she burst into tears and retired. His first 
compliment to her when he saw her again was, * Pray, madam, are you as proud 
and ill natured now as when I saw you last ? ' To which she answered with great 
good-humour, * No, Mr. Dean ; I'll sing for you if you please.* From which time 
he conceived a great esteem for her." — Scott's Life, ** . . . . He had not 
the least tincture of vanity in his conversation. He was, perhaps, as he said him- 
self, too proud to be vain. When he was polite, it was in a manner entirely his 
own. In his friendships he was constant and undisguised. He was the same in his 
enmities. " — Orrery. 

• "I make no figure but at coiu-t, where I affect to turn from a lord to the 
meanest of my acquaintances." — Journal to Stella, 

" I am plagued with bad authors, verse and prose, who send me their books and 
poems, the vilest I ever saw ; but I have given their names to my man, never to 
let them see me." — Journal to Stella, 

The following curious paragraph illustrates the life of a courtier : — 

"Did I ever tell you that the Lord Treasurer hears ill with the left ear, just as 
I do ? . . . . I dare not tell him that I am so, for fear he should think that 
I counterfeited to make my court ! " — Journal to Stella, 



142 ENGLISH HUMO URISTS, 

post about the Court, and gives them over to followers of his own. 
The great prize has not come yet. The coach with the mitre and 
crosier in it, which he intends to have for his sliare, has been delayed 
on the way from St James's ; and he waits and waits until nightfall, 
when his runners come and tell him that the coach has taken a 
different road, and escaped him. So he fires his pistols into the'air 
with a curse, and rides away into his own country.* 

* The war of pamphlets was carried on fiercely on one side and the other : and 
the Whig attacks made the Ministry Swift served very sore. Bolingbroke laid 
hold of several of the Opposition pamphleteers, and bewails their " factitiousness " 
In the following letter : — 

"Bolingbroke to the Earl of Strafford. 

" Whitehall, July 2Zrd, 1712. 

**It is a melancholy consideration that the laws of our country are too weak to 
punish effectually those factitious scribblers, who presume to bla)cken the brightest 
characters, and to give even scurrilous language to those who are in the first degrees 
of honour. This, my lord, among others, is a symptom of the decayed condition 
of our Qovemment, and serves to show how fatally we mistake licentiousness for 
liberty. All I could do was to take up Hart, the printer, to send him to Newgate, 
and to bind him over upon bail to be prosecuted ; this I have done ; and if I 
can arrive at legal proof against the author, Ridpath, he shall have the same 
treatment." 

Swift was not behind his illustrious friend in this virtuous indignation. In the 
hbtory of the four last years of the Queen, the Dean speaks in the most edifying 
manner of the licentiousness of the press and the abusive language of the other 
party : — 

"It must be acknowledged that the bad practices of printers have been such as 
to deserve the severest animadversion from the public .... The adverse 
party, full of rage and leisure since their fall, and unanimous in their cause, employ 
a set of writers by subscription, who are well versed in all the topics of defamation, 
and have a style and genius levelled to the generality of their readers. ... . 
However, the mischiefs of the press were too exorbitant to be cured by such a 
remedy as a tax upon small papers, and a bill for a much more effectual r^[ulation 
of it was brought into the House of Commons, but so late in the session that there 
was no time to pass it, for there always appeared an unwillingness to cramp over- 
much the liberty of the press." 

But to a clause in the proposed bill, that the names of authors should be set to 
every printed book, pamphlet or paper, his Reverence objects altogether ; for, says 
he, "besides the objection to this clause from the practice of pious men, who, in 
publishmg excellent writings for the service of religion, have chosen, out of an 
humble Christian spirit^ to conceal their nanus, it is certain that all persons of true 



SWIFT. 143 

Swift's seems to me to be as good a name to point a moral- or 
adorn a tale of ambition, as any hero's that ever lived and failed. 
But we must remember that the morality was lax — that other gentle- 
men besides himself took the road in his day — tliat pifblic society 
was in a strange disordered condition, and the State was ravaged by 
other condottieri. The Boyne was being fought and won, and lost — 
the bells rung in William's victory, in the very same tone with which 
they would have pealed for James's. Men were loose upon politics, 
and had to shift for themselves. They, as well as old beliefs and 
institutions, had lost their moorings and gone adrift in the storm. 
As in the South Sea Bubble, almost everybody gambled j as in the 
Railway mania — not many centuries ago — almost every one took his 
unlucky share : a man of that time, of the vast talents and ambition 
of Swift, could scarce do otherwise than grasp at his prize, and make 
his spring at his opportunity. His bitterness, his scorn, his rage, his 

genius or knowledge have an invincible modesty and suspicion of themselves upon 
first sending their thoughts into the world." 

This ' ' invincible modesty " was no doubt the sole reason which induced the 
Dean to keep the secret of the " Drapier's Letters " and a hundred humble Christian 
works of which he was the author. As for the Opposition, the Doctor was for 
dealing severely with them : he writes to Stella : 

Journal. Letter XIX. 

^* London, March 25//*, 1710-II. 

** . . . . We have let Guiscard be buried at last, after showing him 
pickled in a trough this fortnight for twopence a piece ; and the fellow that showed 
would point to his body and say, * See, gentlemen, this is the wound that was given 
him by his Grace the Duke of Ormond ;' and, * This is the wound,' &c.; and then 
the show was over, and another set of rabble came in. 'Tis hard that our laws 
would not suffer us to hang his body in chains, because he was not tried ; and in 
the eye of the law every man is innocent till then. . . . . " 

Journal. Letter XXVIL 

* * London, July 2^th, 1 7 1 1 . 

" I was this afternoon with Mr. Secretary at his office, and helped to hinder a 
man of his pardon, who is condemned for a rape. The Under Secretary was 
willing to save him ; but I told the Secretary he could not pardon him without 
a favourable report from the Judge ; besides, he was a fiddler, and consequently a 
rogue, and deserved hanging for something else, and so he shall swing.'' 



144 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

subsequent misanthropy, are ascribed by some panegyrists to a 
deliberate conviction of mankind's unworthiness, and a desire to 
amend them by castigating. His youth was bitter, as that of a great 
genius bound down by ignoble ties, and powerless in a mean depend- 
ence ; his age was bitter,* like that of a great genius that had fought 
the battle and nearly won it, and lost it, and thought of it afterwards 
writhing in a lonely exile. A man may attribute to the gods, if he 
likes, what is caused by his own fury, or disappointment, or self-will. 
What public man — what statesman projecting a coup — what king 
determined on an invasion of his neighbour — what satirist meditating 
an onslaught on society or an individual, can't give a pretext for his 
move ? There was a French general the other day who proposed to 
march into this country and put it to sack and pillage, in revenge for 
humanity outraged by our conduct at Copenhagen : there is always 
some excuse for men of the aggressive turn. They are of their 
nature warlike, predatory, eager for fight, plunder, dominion.f 

As fierce a beak and talon as ever struck — as strong a wing as 
ever beat, belonged to Swift. I am glad, for one, that fate wrested 
the prey out of his claws, and cut his wings and chained him. One 
can gaze, and not without awe and pity, at the lonely eagle chained 
behind the bars. 

That Swift was bom at No. 7, Hoey's Court, Dublin, on the 
30th November, 1667, is a certain fact, of which nobody >vill deny 
the sister island the honour and glory; but, it seems to me, he 
was no more an Irishman than a man bom of English parents at 
Calcutta is a Hindoo.} Goldsmith was an Irishman, and always an 

• It was his constant practice to keep his birthday as a day of mourning. 

t ** These devils of Grub Street rogues, that write the Flying Post and Medhy 
in one paper, will not be quiet. They are always mauling Lord Treasurer, Lord 
Bolingbroke, and me. We have the dog under prosecution, but Bolingbroke is 
not active enough ; but I hope to swinge him. He is a Scotch rogue, one Ridpath. 
They get out upon bail, and write on. We take them again, and get fresh bail ; 
so it goes round." — Journal to Stella, 

X Swift was by no means inclined to forget such considerations ; and his 



SWIFT, 145 

Irishman : Steele was an Irishman, and always an Irishman : Swift's 
heart was English and in England, his habits English, his logic 
eminently English ; his statement is elaborately simple ; he shuns 
tropes and metaphors, and uses his ideas and words with a wise thrift 
and economy, as he used his money : with which he could be 
generous and splendid upon great occasions, but which he husbanded 
when there was no need to spend it He never indulges in needless 
extravagance of rhetoric, lavish epithets, proftise imagery. He lays 
his opinion before you with a grave simplicity and a perfect neatness.* 

English birth makes its mark, strikingly enough, every now and then in his writings. 
Thus in a letter to Pope (Scott's Swi/tj vol. xix. p. 97), he says : — 

** Wchave had your volume of letters Some of those who- highly 

value you, and a few who knew you personally, are grieved to find you make no 
distinction between the English gentry of this kingdom, and the savage old Irish 
(who are only the vulgar, and some gentlemen who live in the Irish parts of the 
kingdom) ; but the English colonies, who are three parts in four, are much more 
civilized than many coimties in England, and speak better English, and are much 
better bred." 

And again, in the fourth Drapier*s Letter, we have the following :— 

" A short paper, printed at Bristol, and reprinted here, reports Mr. Wood to 
say * that he wonders at the impudence and insolence of the Irish in refusing his 
coin.' When, by the way, it is the true English people of Ireland who refuse it, 
although we take it for granted that the Irish will do so too whenever they are 
asked." — Scoit's .SVc^//"/, vol. iv. p. 143. 

lie goes further, in a good-humoured satirical paper, ** On Barbarous Denomi- 
nations in Ireland," where (after abusing, as he was wont, the Scotch cadence, as 
well as expression,) he advances to the ** Irish brogue^^ and speaking of the 
** censure" which it brings down, says : — 

** And what is yet worse, it is too well known that the bad consequence of this 
opinion affects those among us who are not the least liable to such reproaches 
farther than the misfortune of being bom in Ireland, although of English parents, 
and whose education has been chiefly in that kingdom." — Ibid, vol. viL p. 149. 

But, indeed, if we are to make anything of Race at all, we must call that man 
an Englishman whose father comes from an old Yorkshire fSunily, and his mother 
from an old Leicestershire one I 

* ** The style of his conversation was very much of a piece with that of his 
WTitings, concise and clear and strong. Being one day at a Sheriffs feast, who 
amongst other toasts called out to him, * Mr. Dean, The Trade of Ireland I * he 
answered quick : * Sir, I drink no memories ! * . . . . 

** Happening to be in company with a petulant young man who prided himself 
on saying pert things . . . and who cried out — ' You must know, Mr. Dean, that 

10 



146 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS. 

Dreading ridicule too, as a man of his hmnonr — above all an English- 
man of his humour — certainly would, he is afraid to use the poetical 
power which he really possessed ; one often fancies in reading him 
that he dares not be eloquent when he might ; that he does not speak 
above his voice, as it were, and the tone of society. 

His initiation into politics, his knowledge of business, his know- 
ledge of polite life, his acquaintance with literature even, which he 
could not have pursued very sedulously during that reckless career at 
Dublin, Swift got under the roof of Sir William Temple. He was 
fond of telling in after life what quantities of books he devoured 
there, and how King William taught him to cut asparagus in the 
Dutch fashion. It was at Shene and at Moor Park, with a salary of 
twenty pounds and a dinner at the upper servants' table, that this 
great and lonely Swift passed a ten years' apprenticeship — ^wore a 
cassock that was only not a lively — ^bent down a knee as proud as 
Lucifer's to supplicate my lady's good graces, or run on his honour's 
errands.* It was here, as he was writing at Temple's table, or 
following his patron's walk, that he saw and heard the men who had 
governed the great world — measured himself with them, looking up 
from his silent comer, gauged their brains, weighed their wits, turned 
them, and tried them, and marked them. Ah ! what platitudes he 
must have heard ! what feeble jokes ! what pompous commonplaces ! 
what small men they must have seemed under those enormous 
periwigs, to the swarthy, uncouth, silent Irish secretary. I wonder 

I set up for a wit ? ' * Do you so ? ' says the Dean. * Take my advice, and sit 
down again I ' 

** At another time, being in comjiany, where a lady whisking her long train 
[long trains were then in fashion] swept down a fine fiddle and broke it ; Swift 
cried out — 

* Mantua vcc miseric nimium vicina Cremonze I ' " 

— Dr. Dei^NV : Observations upon Lord Orrery's ^^ Remarks ^ <Sr»r. on Swift.'''' 
Ix>ndon, 1754. 

♦ ** Don't you remember how I used to be in pain when Sir William Temple 
would look cold and out of humour for three . or four days, and I used to suspect 
a hundred reasons ? I have plucked up my spirits since then, faith : he spoiled 
a fine gentleman." — Journal to Stella, 



SWIFT. 147 

whether it ever struck Temple, that that Irishman was his master ? I 
suppose that dismal conviction did not present itself xmder the 
ambrosial wig, or Temple could never have lived with Swift. Swift 
sickened, rebelled, left the service — ^ate humble pie and came back 
again ; and so for ten years went on, gathering learning, swallowing 
scorn, and submitting with a stealthy rage to his fortune. 

Temple's style is the perfection of practised and easy good- 
breeding. If he does not penetrate very deeply into a subject, he 
professes a very gentlemanly acquaintance with it ; if he makes rather 
a parade of Latin, it was the custom of his day, as it was the custom . 
for a gentleman to envelope his head in a periwig and his hands in 
lace ruffles. If he wears buckles and square-toed shoes, he steps 
in them with a consummate grace, and you never hear their creak, 
or find .them treading upon any lady's train or any rival's heels in the 
Court crowd. When that grows too hot or too agitated for him, he , 
pohtely leaves it. He retires to his retreat of Shene or Moor Park ; 
and lets the King's party and the Prince of Orange's party battle it 
out among themselves. He reveres the Sovereign (and no man 
perhaps ever testified to his loyalty by so elegant a bow) ; he admires 
the Prince of Orange ; but there is one person whose ease and 
comfort he loves more than all the princes in Chistendom, and that 
valuable member of society is himself Gulielmus Temple, Baronettus. 
One sees him in his retreat ; between his study-chair and his tulip- 
beds,* clipping his apricots and pruning his essays, — the statesman, 

***... The Epicureans were more intelligible in their notion, and fortunate 
in their expression, when they placed a man's happiness in the tranquillity of his 
mind and indolence of body ; for while we are composed of both, I doubt both 
must have a share in the good or ill we feel. As men of several languages say the 
same things in very different words, so in several ages, countries, constitutions of 
laws and religion, the same thing seems to be meant by very different expressions : 
what is called by the Stoics apathy, or dispassion ; by the sceptics, indisturbance ; 
by* the Molinists, quietism ; by common men, peace of conscience, — seems all to 
mean but great tranquillity of mind. . . . For this reason Epicurus passed his life 
wholly in his garden ; there he studied, there he exercised, there he taught his 
philosophy ; and, indeed, no other sort of abode seems to contribute so much to 
both the tranquillity of mind and indolence of body, which he made his chief ends. 



148 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

the ambassador no more; but the philosopher, the Epicurean, the 
fine gentleman and courtier at St James's as at Shene; where in 
place of kings and fair ladies, he pays his court to the Ciceronian 
majesty ; or walks a minuet with the Epic Muse ; or dallies by the 
south wall with the ruddy nymph of gardens. 

Temple seems to have received and exacted a prodigious deal of 
veneration from his household, and to have been coaxed, and warmed, 
and cuddled by the people round about him, as delicately as any of 
the plants which he loved. When he fell ill in 1693, the household 
was aghast at his indisposition : mild Dorothea his wife, the best 
companion of the best of men — 

" Mild Dorothea, peaceful, wise, and great, 
Trembling beheld the doubtful hand of fate." 

As for Dorinda, his sister, — 

* * Those who would grief describe, might come and trace 
Its watery footsteps in Dorinda's face. 
To sec her weep, joy every face forsook, 
And grief flung sables on each menial look. 
The humble tribe mourned for the quickening soul, 
That furnished life and spirit through the whole." 

The sweetness of the air, the pleasantness of smell, the verdure of plants, the 
cleanness and lightness of food, the exercise of working or walking ; but, above all, 
the exemption from cares and solicitude, seem equally to favour and improve both 
contemplation and health, the enjoyment of sense and imagination, and thereby the 
quiet and ease both of the body and mind. . . . Where Paradise was, has been 
much debated, and little agreed ; but what sort of place is meant by it may perhaps 
easier be conjectured. It seems to have been a Persian word, since Xenophon and 
other Greek authors mention it as what was much in use and delight among the 
kings of those eastern countries. Strabo describing Jericho : * Ibi est palmetum, 
cui immixtoe sunt etiam aliae stirpes hortenses, locus ferax palmis abimdans, spatio 
stadiorum centum, totus irriguus : ibi est Regis Balsami paradisus.'" — Essay on 
Gardens, 

In the same famous essay Temple speaks of a friend, whose conduct and prudence 
he characteristically admires : 

". . . . I thought it very prudent in a gentleman of my friends in Stafford- 
shire, who is a great lover of his garden, to pretend no higher, though his soif be 
good enough, than to the perfection of plums ; and in these (by bestoviing south 
walls upon them) he has very well succeeded, which he could never have done in 
attempts upon peaches and grapes ; and a good plum is certainly better than an ill 
peach.'' 



SWIFT. 149 

Isn't that line in which grief is described as putting the menials into 
a mourning livery, a fine image ? One of the menials wrote it, who 
did not like that Temple livery nor those twenty-pound wages. 
Cannot one fancy the uncouth young servitor, with downcast eyes, 
books and papers in hand, following at his honour's heels in the 
garden walk ; or taking his honour's orders as he stands by the 
great chair, where Sir William has the gout, and his feet all 
blistered with moxa ? Wien Sir William has the gout or scolds it 
must be hard work at the second table ; * the Irish secretary owned 
as much afterwards : and when he came to dinner, how he must 
have lashed and growled and torn the household with his gibes and 

♦ Swift's Thoughts on Hanging. 
(Directions to Servants, ) 

"To grow old in the office of a footman is the highest of all indignities ; there- 
fore, when you find years coming on without hopes of a place at court, a command 
in the army, a succession to the stewardship, an employment in the revenue (which 
two last you cannot obtain without reading and writing), or running away with 
your master's niece or daughter, I directly advise you to go upon the road, which 
is the only post of honour left you : there you will meet many of your old comrades, 
and live a short life and a merry one, and make a figure at your exit, wherein I 
will give you some instructions. 

**The last advice I give you relates to your behaviour when you are going to be 
hanged : which, either for robbing your master, for housebreaking, or going upon 
the highway, or in a drunken quarrel by killing the first man you meet, may very 
probably be your lot, and is owing to one of these three qualities : either a love of 
good-fellowship, a generosity of mind, or too much vivacity of spirits. Your good 
l)chaviour on this article will concern your whole community : deny the fact with 
all solemnity of imprecations : a hundred of your brethren, if they can be admitted, 
will attend about the bar, and be ready upon demand to give you a character before 
the Court ; let nothing prevail on you to confess, but the promise of a pardon for 
discovering your comrades : but I suppose all this to be in vain ; for if you escape 
now, your fate will be the same another day. Get a speech to be written by the 
best author of Newgate : some of your kind wenches will provide you with a 
hoUand shirt and white cap, crowned with a crimson or black ribbon : take leave 
cheerfully of all your friends in Newgate : mount the cart with courage ; fall on 
your knees ; lift up your eyes ; hold a book in your hands, although you cannot 
read a word ; deny the fact at the gallows ! kiss and forgive the hangman, and so 
farewell ; you shall be buried in pomp at the charge of the fraternity : the surgeon 
shall not touch a limb of you ; and your fame shall continue until a successor of 
equal renown succeeds in your place. ..." 



ISO ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

scom ! What would the steward say about the pride of them Irish 
sehollards — and this one had got no great credit even at his Irish college, 
if the truth were known — ^and what a contempt his Excellency's own 
gentleman must have had for Parson Teague from Dublin. (The 
valets and chaplains were always at war. It is hard to say which 
Swift thought the more contemptible.) And what must have been the 
sadness, the sadness and terror, of the housekeeper's little daughter 
with the curling black ringlets and the sweet smiling face, when the 
secretary who teaches her to read and write, and whom she loves and 
reverences above all things — above mother, above mild Dorothea, 
above that tremendous Sir William in his square-toes and periwig, — 
when Mr, Swift comes down from his master with rage in his heart, 
and has not a kind word even for little Hester Johnson ? 

Perhaps, for the Irish secretary, his Excellency's condescension 
was even more cruel than his frowns. Sir William would perpetually 
quote Latin and the ancient classics apropos of his gardens and his 
Dutch statues 2Jidi plates-bandes, and talk about Epicurus and Diogenes 
Laertius, Julius Caesar, Semiramis, and the gardens of the Hesperides, 
Maecenas, Strabo describing Jericho, and the Assyrian kings. Apropos 
of beans, he would mention Pythagoras's precept to abstain from 
beans, and that this precept probably meant that >\ise men should 
abstain from public affairs. Be is a placid Epicurean ; Af is a Pytha- 
gorean philosopher ; he is a wise man — that is the deduction. Does 
not Swift think so ? One can imagine the downcast eyes lifted up 
for a moment, and the flash of scom which they emit Swift's eyes 
were as azure as the heavens ; Pope says nobly (as everything Pope 
said and thought of his friend was good and noble), " His eyes are as 
azure as the heavens, and have a charming archness in them." And 
one person in that household, that pompous, stately, kindly Moor 
Park, saw heaven nowhere else. 

But the Temple amenities and solemnities did not agree with 
Swift. He was half-killed with a surfeit of Shene pippins ; and in a 
garden-seat which he devised for himself at Moor Park, and where he 
devoured greedily the stock of books within his reach, he caught a 



SWIFT. iSr 

vertigo and deafness which punished and tormented him through life. 
He could not bear the place or the servitude. Even in that poem of 
courtly condolence, from which we have quoted a few lines of mock 
melancholy, he breaks out of the funereal procession with a mad 
shriek, as it were, and rushes away crying his own grief, cursing his 
own fate, foreboding madness, and forsaken by fortune, and even 
hope. 

I don't know anything more melancholy than the letter to Temple, 
in which, after having broke from his bondage, the poor wretch 
crouches piteously towards his cage again, and deprecates his 
master's anger. He asks for testimonials for orders. "The par- 
ticulars required of me are what relate to morals and learning; and 
the reasons of quitting your honour's family — that is, whether the 
last was occasioned by any ill action. They are left entirely to your 
honour's mercy, though in the first I think I cannot reproach myself 
for anything further than for infirmities. This is all I dare at present 
beg from your honour, under circumstances of life not worth your 
regard : what is left me to wish (next to the health and prosperity of 
your honour and family) is that Heaven would one day allow me 
the opportunity of leaving my acknowledgments at your feet I beg 
my most humble duty and service be presented to my ladies, your 
honour's lady and sister." — Can prostration fall deeper? could a 
slave bow lower ? * 

* ** He continued in Sir William Temple's house till the death of that great 
man." — Anecdotes of the Family of Swift ^ by the Dean. 

** It has since pleased God to take this great and good person to himself." — 
Frefaee to Temple's IVorks. 

On all public occasions, Swift speaks of Sir William in the same tone. But the 
reader will better understand how acutely he remembered the indignities he suffered 
in his household, from the subjoined extracts from the Journal to Stella : — 

** I called at Mr. Secretary the other day, to see what the d ailed him on 

Sunday : I made him a very proper speech ; told him I observed he was much out 
of temper, that I did not expect he would tell me the cause, but would be glad to 
see he was in better ; and one thing I warned him of— never to appear cold to me, 
for I would not be treated like a schoolboy ; that I had felt too much of that in my 
life already " (meaning Sir William Temple)^ &c. Sic.^^Journal to Stella, 

**I am thinking what a veneration we used to have for Sir William Temple 



152 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Twenty years afterwards Bishop Kennet, describing the same 
man, says, " Dr. Swift came into the coffee-house and had a bow 
from everybody but me. WTien I came to the antechamber [at 
Court] to wait before prayers, Dr. Swift was the principal man of 
talk and business. He was soliciting the Earl of Arran to speak ta 
his brother, the Duke of Ormond, to get a place for a clergyman. 
He was promising Mr. Thorold to undertake, with my Lord 
Treasurer, that he should obtain a salary of 200/. per annum as 
member of the English Church at Rotterdam. He stopped 
F. Gwynne, Esq., going into the Queen with the red bag, and told 
him aloud, he had something to say to him from my Lord Treasurer. 
He took out his gold watch, and telling tlie time of day, complained 
that it was very late. A gentleman said he was too fast * How can. 
I help it,' says the Doctor, * if the courtiers give me a watch that 
won't go right ? ' Then he instructed a young nobleman, that the 
best poet in England was Mr. Pope (a Papist), who had begun a 
translation of Homer into English, for which he would have them all 
subscribe : * For,' says he, * he shall not begin to print till I have a 
thousand guineas for him.' * Lord Treasurer, after leaving the Queen^ 

because he might have been Secretary of State at fifty ; and here is a young fellow 
hardly thirty in that employment." — Ibid. 

** The Secretary is as easy with me as Mr. Addison was. I have often thought 
what a splutter Sir William Temple makes about being Secretary of State." — Ibid, 

** Lord Treasurer has had an ugly fit of the rheumatism, but is now quite well. 
I was playing at onc-and-thirty with him and his family the other night. He gave 
us all twelvepence apiece to begin with ; it put me in mind of Sir William Temple." 
—Ibid, 

•* I thought I saw Jack Temple \jtephrM to Sir William'] and his wife pass by 
me to-day in their coach ; but I took no notice of them. I am glad I have wholly 
shaken off that family."— 3". to S. Sept. 17 10. 

♦ ** Swift must be allowed," says Dr. Johnson, "for a time, to have dictated 
the political opinions of the English nation. " 

A conversation on the Dean's pamphlets excited one of the Doctor's liveliest 
sallies. ** One, in particular, praised his 'Conduct of the Allies.' — Johnson: 
• Sir, his * Conduct of the Allies ' is a performance of very little ability. . . . W^hy, 
sir, Tom Davies might have written the * Conduct of the Allies ! ' "— Boswell's. 
ZAfe of Johnson. 



SIVIFT. 153 

came through the room, beckoning Dr. Swift to follow him, — ^both 
went off just before prayers." There's a little malice in the Bishop's 
** just before prayers." 

This picture of the great Dean seems a true one, and is harsh, 
though not altogether unpleasant He was doing good, and to 
deserving men too, in the midst of these intrigues and triumphs. His 
journals and a thousand anecdotes of him relate his kind acts and 
rough manners. His hand was constantly stretched out to relieve an 
honest man — he was cautious about his money, but ready. — If you 
were in a strait would you like such a benefactor ? I think I would 
rather have had a potato and a friendly word from Goldsmith than 
have been beholden to the Dean for a guinea and a dinner.* He 
insulted a man as he served him, made women cry, guests look 
foolish, bullied unlucky friends, and flung his benefactions into poor 
men's faces. No ; the Dean was no Irishman — no Irishman ever 
gave but with a kind word and a kind heart. 

It is told, as if it were to Swift's credit, that the Dean of 
St. Patrick's performed his family devotions every morning regularly, 
but with such secrecy that the guests in his house were never in the 
least aware of the ceremony. There was no need surely why a church 

* ** Whenever he fell into the company of any person for the first time, it was 
his custom to try their tempers and disposition by some abrupt question that bore 
the appearance of rudeness. If this were well taken, and answered with good 
humour, he afterwards made amends by his civilities. But if he saw any marks of 
resentment, from alarmed pride, vanity, or conceit, he dropped all further intercourse 
with the party. This will be illustrated by an anecdote of that sort related by 
Mrs. Pilkington. After supper, the Dean having decanted a bottle of wine, poured 
what remained into a glass, and seeing it was muddy, presented it to Mr. Pilkington 
to drink it. * For,' said he, * I always keep some poor parson to drink the foul 
wine for me.' Mr. Pilkington, entering into his humour, thanked him, and told 
him *he did not know the difference, but was glad to get a glass at any rate.* 

* Why, then,' said the Dean, *you shan't, for I'll drink it myself. Why, take 

you, you are wiser than a paltry curate whom I asked to dine with me a few days 
ago ; for upon my making the same speech to him, he said he did not understand 
such usage, and so walked off without his dinner. By the same token, I told the 
gentleman who recommended him to me that the fellow was a blockhead, and I 
had done with him.' "—Sheridan's Life of Sivift, 



154 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS. 

dignitary should assemble his family privily in a ciypt, and as if he 
was afiraid of heathen persecution. But I think the world was right, 
and the bishops who advised Queen Anne, when they counselled her 
not to appoint the author of the " Tale of a Tub " to a bishopric, 
gave perfectly good advice. The man who wrote the arguments and 
illustrations in that wild book, could not but be aware what must be 
the sequel of the propositions which he laid down. The boon 
companion of Pope and Bolingbroke, who chose these as the friends 
of his life, and the recipients of his confidence and affection, must 
have heard many an argument, and joined in many a conversation 
over Pope's port, or St John's burgundy, which would not bear to be 
repeated at other men's boards. 

I know of few things more conclusive as to the sincerity of SwifVs 
religion than his advice to poor John Gay to turn clergyman, and 
look out for a seat on the Bench. Gay, the author of the " Beggar's 
Opera" — Gay, the wildest of the wits about town — it was this man 
that Jonathan Swift advised to take orders — to invest in a cassock 
and bands — just as he advised him to husband his shillings and put 
his thousand pounds out at interest.* The Queen, and the bishops, 
and the world, were right in mistrusting the religion of that man. 

♦ "From the Archbishop of Cashell. 

"Dear Sir,— " Cashell, May 3IJ/, 1735. 

" I HAVE been so unfortunate in all my contests of late, that I am resolved 
to have no more, especially where I am likely to be overmatched ; and as I have 
some reason to hope what is past will be forgotten, I confess I did endeavour in my 
last to put the best colour I could think of upon a very bad cause. My friends 
judge right of my idleness ; but, in reality, it has hitherto proceeded from a hurry 
and confusion, ansing from a thousand unlucky imforeseen accidents rather than 
mere sloth. I have but one troublesome affair now upon my hands, which, by the 
help of the prime seijeant, I hope soon to get rid of; and then you shall see me a 
true Irish bishop. Sir James Ware has made a very useful collection of the 
memorable actions of my predecessors. He tells me, they were bom in such a 
town of England or Ireland ; were consecrated such a year ; and if not translated, 
were buried in the Cathedral church, either on the north or south side. Whence I 
conclude, that a good bishop has nothing more to do than to eat, drink, grow fat, 
rich, and die ; which laudable example I propose for the remainder of my life to 
follow ; for to tell you the truth, I have for these four or five years past met 



SWIFT. 155 

I am not here, of course, to speak of any man's religious views, 
except in so far as they influence his literary character, his life, his 
humour. The most notorious sinners of all those fellow-mortals 
whom it is our business to discuss — Harry Fielding and Dick Steele, 
were especially loud, and I believe really fervent, in their expressions 
of belief ; they belaboured freethinkers, and stoned imaginary atheists 
on all sorts of occasions, going out of their way to bawl their own 
creed, and persecute their neighbour's, and if they sinned and 
stumbled, as they constantly did with debt, with drink, with all sorts 
of bad behaviour, they got upon their knees and cried " Peccavi " 
with a most sonorous orthodoxy. Yes; poor Harry Fielding and 
poor Dick Steele were trusty and undoubting Church of England 
men; they abhorred Popery, Atheism, and wooden shoes, and 
idolatries in general ; and hiccupped Church and State with fervour. 

with so much treachery, baseness, and ingratitude among mankind, that I can 
hardly think it incumbent on any man to endeavour to do good to so perverse a 
generation. 

**I am truly concerned at tlie account you give me of your health. Without 
doubt a southern ramble will prove the best remedy you can take to recover your 
flesh ; and I do not know, except in one stage, where you can choose a road so 
suited to your circumstances, as from Dublin hither. You have to Kilkenny a 
turnpike and good inns, at every ten or twelve miles' end. From Kilkenny hither 
is twenty long miles, bad road, and no inns at all : but I have an expedient for you. 
At the foot of a very high hill, just midway, there lives in a neat thatched cabin, a 
parson, who is not poor ; his wife is allowed to be the best little woman in the 
world. Her chickens are the fattest, and her ale the best ia all the country. 
Besides, the parson has a little cellar of his own, of which he keeps thekey, where 
he always has a hogshead of the best wine that can be got, in bottles well corked, 
upon their side ; and he cleans, and pulls out the cork better, I think, than Robin. 
Here I design to meet you with a coach ; if you be tired, you shall stay all night ; 
if not, after dinner, we will set out about four, and be at Cashell by nine ; and by 
going through fields and by-ways, which the parson will show us, we shall escape 
all the rocky and stony roads that lie between this place and that, which are 
certainly very bad. I hope you will be so kind as to let me know a post or two 
before you set out, the very day you will be at Kilkenny, that I may have all things 
prepared for you. It may be, if you ask him. Cope "will come : he will do nothing 
for me. Therefore, depending upon your positive promise, I shall add no more 
arguments to persuade you, and am, with the greatest truth, your most faithful and 
obedient servant, « « Theo. Cashell. " 



156 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

But Swift? Jlis mind had had a different schooling, and 
possessed a very different logical power. He was not bred up in a 
tipsy guard-room, and did not learn to reason in a Covent Garden 
tavern. He could conduct an argument from beginning to end. He 
could see forward wdtb a fatal clearness. In his old age, looking at 
the " Tale of a Tub," when he said, " Good God, what a genius I had 
when I wrote that book ! " I think he was admiring not the genius, 
but the consequences to which the genius had brought him — a vast 
genius, a magnificent genius, a genius wonderfully bright, and dazzling, 
and strong, — to seize, to know, to see, to flash upon falsehood and 
scorch it into perdition, to penetrate into the hidden motives, and 
expose the black thoughts of men, — an awful, an evil spirit 

Ah man ! you, educated ii;i Epicurean Temple's library, you 
whose friends were Pope and St John — what made you to swear to 
fatal vows, and bind yourself to a life-long hypocrisy before the 
Heaven which you adored with such real wonder, humility, and 
reverence ? For Swift was a reverent, was a pious spirit-^for Swift 
could love and could pray. Through the storms and tempests of his 
furious mind, the stars of religion and love break out in the blue,, 
shining serenely, though hidden by the driving clouds and the 
maddened hurricane of his life. 

It is my belief that he suffered frightfully from the consciousness 
of his own scepticism, and that he had bent his pride so far down as 
to put his apostasy out to hire.* The paper left behind him, called 
" Thoughts on Religion," is merely a set of excuses for not professing 
disbelief He says of his sermons that he preached pamphlets : they 
have scarce a Christian characteristic ; they might be preached from 
the steps of a synagogue, or the floor of a mosque, or the box of a 
coffee-house almost. There is little or no cant — he is too great and 
too proud for that ; and, in so far as the badness of his sermons goes, 

• "Mr. S%vift lived with him [Sir William Temple] some time, but resolving 
to settle himself in some way of living, was inclined to take orders. However, 
although his fortune was very small, he had a scruple of entering into the Church 
merely for support." — Anecdotes of the Family of Swift y by the Dean. 



SWIFT. 157 

he is honest. But having put that cassock on, it poisoned him : he 
was strangled in his bands. He goes through life, tearing, like a man 
possessed with a devil. Like Abudah in the Arabian story, he is 
always looking out for the Fury, and knows that the night will come 
and the inevitable hag with it What a night, my God, it wzts ! what 
a lonely rage and long agony — what a vulture that tore the heart of 
that giant ! * It is awful to think of the great sufferings of this great 
man. Through life he always seems alone, somehow. Goethe was 
so. I can't fancy Shakspeare otherwise. The giants must live apart 
The kings can have no company. But this man suflfered so ; and 
deserved so to suffer. One hardly reads anywhere of such a pain. 

The " saiva indignatio " of which he spoke as lacerating his heart, 
and which he dares to inscribe on his tombstone— as if the ^^Tetch 
who lay under that stone waiting God's judgment had a right to be 
angry — breaks out from him in a thousand pages of his writing, and 
tears and rends him. Against men in office, he having been over- 
thrown ; against men in England, he having lost his chance of prefer- 
ment there, the furious exile never fails to rage and curse. Is it fair 
to call the famous " Drapier's Letters " patriotism ? They are 
master-pieces of dreadful humour and invective : they are reasoned 
logically enough too, but the proposition is as monstrous and 
fabulous as the Lilliputian island. It is not that the grievance is so 
great, but there is his enemy — the assault is wonderful for its activity 
and terrible rage. It is Samson, with a bone in his hand, rushing on 
his enemies and felling them : one admires not the cause so much as 
the strength, the anger, the fury of the champion. As is the case with 
madmen, certain subjects provoke him, and awaken his fits of wTath. 
Marriage is one of these ; in a hundred passages in his writings he 
rages against it ; rages against children ; an object of constant 
satire, even more contemptible in his eyes than a lord's chaplain, is a 

♦ ** Dr. Swift had a natural severity of face, which even his smiles could never 
soften, or his utmost gaiety render placid and serene ; but when that sternness of 
visage was increased by rage, it is scarce possible to imagine looks or features that 
carried in them more terror and austerity." — ORRERY. 



158 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

poor curate with a large family. The idea of this luckless paternity 
never fails to bring down from him gibes and foul language. Could 
Dick Steele, or Goldsmith, or Fielding, in his most reckless moment 
of satire, have written anything like the Dean's famous "modest 
proposal " for eating children ? Not one of these but melts at the 
thoughts of childhood, fondles and caresses it Mr. Dean has no 
such softness, and enters the nursery with the tread and gaiety of 
an ogre.* ** I have been assured," says he in the " Modest Proposal," 
" by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that 
a young healthy child, well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, 
nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or 
boiled ; and I make no doubt it will equally sen-e in a rago^i^ And 
taking up this pretty joke, as his way is, he argues it with perfect 
gravity and logic. He turns and t^vists this subject in a score of 
diflferent ways : he hashes it ; and he serves it up cold ; and he 
garnishes it ; and relishes it always. He describes the little animal 
as " dropped from its dam," advising that the mother should let it 
suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render it plump and fat 
for a good table ! " A child," says his Reverence, " will make t?!0 
dishes at an entertainment for friends ; and when the family dines 
alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish," and so 
on ; and, the subject being so delightful that he can't leave it, he 
proceeds to recommend, in place of venison for squires' tables, " the 
bodies of young lads and maidens not exceeding fourteen or under 
twelve." Amiable humourist ! laughing castigator of morals ! There 
was a process well known and practised in the Dean's gay days : 
when a lout entered the coffee-house, the wags proceeded to what 
they called "roasting" him. This is roasting a subject with a 
vengeance. The Dean had a native genius for it As tlie " Almanach 
des Gourmands " says, On natt rOiisseur. 

* ^^ London, April \oth, 1 713. 

** Lady Masham's eldest boy is very ill : I doubt he wiU not live ; and she stays 

at Kensington to nurse him, which vexes us all. She is so excessively fond, it 

makes me mad. She should never leave the Queen, but leave everything, to stick 

to what is so much the interest of the public, as well as her own " — JonrnaL 



SWIFT. 159 

And it was not merely by the sarcastic method that Siivift exposed 
the unreasonableness of loving and having children. In Gulliver, 
the folly of love and marriage is urged by graver arguments and 
advice. In the famous Lilliputian kingdom, Swift speaks with 
approval of the practice of instantly removing children from their 
parents and educating them by the State ; and amongst his favoiuite 
horses, a pair of foals are stated to be the very utmost a well- 
regulated equine couple would permit themselves. In fact, our 
great satirist was of opinion that conjugal love was unadvisable, 
and illustrated the theory by his own practice and example — God 
help him — ^which made him about the most wretched being in 
God*s world.* 

The grave and logical conduct of an absurd proposition, as 
exemplified in the cannibal proposal just mentioned, is our author's 
constant method through all his works of humour. Given a country 
of people six inches or sixty feet high, and by the mere process of 
the logic, a thousand wonderful absurdities are evolved, at so many 
stages of the calculation. Turning to the first minister who waited 
behind him with a white staff near as tall as the mainmast of the 
" Royal Sovereign," the King of Brobdingnag observes how con- 
temptible a thing human grandeur is, as represented by such a 
contemptible little creature as Gulliver. " The Emperor of Lilliput's 
features are strong and masculine " (what a surprising humour there is 
in this description !) — " The Emperor's features," Gulliver says, " are 
strong and masculine, with an Austrian lip, an arched nose, his com- 
plexion olive, his countenance erect, his body and limbs well propor- 
tioned, and his deportment majestic. He is taller by tlu breadth of 
my fiaii than any of his court, which alone is enough to strike an awe 
into beholders." 

\Vhat a surprising humour there is in these descriptions ! How 
noble the satire is here ! how just and honest ! How perfect the 
image ! Mr. Macaulay has quoted the charming lines of the poet, 

* ''My health is somewhat mended, but at best I have an ill head and an 
aching heart." — In May ^ 17^9- 



i6o ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

where the king of the pigmies is measured by the same standard. 
We have all read in Milton of the spear that was like " the mast of some 
tall admiral," but these images are surely likely to come to the comic 
poet originally. The subject is before him. He is turning it in a 
thousand ways. He is full of it. The figure suggests itself naturally 
to him, and comes out of his subject, as in that Wonderful passage, 
when Gulliver's box having been dropped by the eagle into the sea, 
and Gulliver having been received into the ship*s cabin, he calls upon 
the crew to bring the box into the cabin, and put it on the table, the 
cabin being only a quarter the size of the box. It is the veracity of 
the blunder which is so admirable. Had a man come from such a 
country as Brobdingnag he would have blundered so. 

But the best stroke of humour, if there be a best in that abounding 
book, is that where Gulliver, in the unpronounceable country, 
describes his paiting from his master the horse.* " I took," he 

• Perhaps the most melancholy satire in the whole of the dreadful book, is the 
description of the very old people in the " Voyage to Laputa." At Lugnag, Gulliver 
hears of some persons who never die, called the Struldbrugs, and expressing a wish 
to become acquainted with men who must have so much learning and experience^ 
his colloquist describes the Struldbrugs to him. 

** He said : They commonly acted like mortals, till about thirty years old, after 
which, by degrees, they grew melancholy and dejected, increasing in both till they 
came to fourscore. This he learned from their own confession : for otherwise there 
not being above two or three of that species bom in an age, they were too few to 
form a general observation by. When they came to fourscore years, which is 
reckoned the extremity of living in this country-, they had not only all the follies 
and infirmities of other old men, but many more, which arose from the prospect of 
never dying. They were not only opinionative, peevish, covetous, morose, vain, 
talkative, but incapable of friendship, and dead to all natural affection, which never 
descended below their grandchildren. Envy and impotent desires are their 
prevailing passions. But those objects against which their envy seems principally 
directed, are the vices of the younger sort and the deaths of the old. By reflecting 
on the former, they find themselves cut off from all possibility of pleasure ; and 
whenever they see a funeral, they lament, and repent that others are gone to a 
harbour of rest, to which they themselves never can hope to arrive. They have no 
remembrance of anything but what they learned and observed in their youth and 
middle age, and even that is very imperfect. And for the truth or particulars of 
any fact, it is safer to depend on common tradition than upon their best recollections. 
The least miserable among them appear to be those who turn to dotage, and 



SWIFT, i6i 

says, " a second leave of my master, but as I was going to prostrate 
myself to kiss his hoof, he did me the honour to raise it gently to my 

entirely lose their memories ; these meet with more pity and assistance, because 
they want many bad qualities which abound in others. 

**If a Struldbrug happened to marry one of his own kind, the marriage is 
dissolved of course, by the courtesy of the kingdom, as soon as the younger of the 
two comes to be fourscore. For the law thinks it to be a reasonable indulgence 
that those who are condemned, without any fault of their o^ti, to a perpetual con- 
tinuance in the world, should not have their misery doubled by the load of a wife. 

" As soon as they have completed the term of eighty years, they are looked on 
as dead in law ; their heirs immediately succeed to their estates, only a small 
pittance is reserved for their support ; and the poor ones are maintained at the 
public charge. After that period, they are held incapable of any employment of 
trust or profit, they cannot purchase lands or take leases, neither are they allowed 
to be witnesses in any cause, either civil or criminal, not even for the decision of 
meers and bounds. 

" At ninety they lose their teeth and hair ; they have at that age no distinction 
of taste, but eat and drink whatever they can get without relish or appetite. The 
diseases they were subject to still continue, without increasing or diminishing. In 
talking, they forget the common appellation of things, and the names of persons, 
even of those who are their nearest friends and relatives. For the same reason, 
they can never amuse themselves with reading, because their memory \vill not serve 
to carry them from the beginning of a sentence to the end ; and by this defect they 
are deprived of the only entertainment whereof they might otherwise be capable. 

" The language of this country being always on the flux, the Struldbrugs of one 
age do not understand those of another ; neither are they able, after two hundred 
years, to hold any conversation (further than by a few general words) with their 
neighbours, the mortals; and thus they lie under the disadvantage of living like 
foreigners in their own country. 

** This was the account given me of the Struldbrugs, as near as I can remember. 
I afterwards saw five or six of different ages, the youngest not above two hundred 
years old, who were brought to me several times by some of my friends ; but 
although they were told *that I was a great traveller, and had seen all the world,' 
they had not the least curiosity to ask me a single question ; only desired I would 
give them slumskudask, or a token of remembrance ; which is a modest way of 
bf^ng, to avoid the law, that strictly forbids it, because they are provided for by 
the public, although indeed with a very scanty allowance. 

"They are despised and hated by all sorts of people ; when one of them is 
bom, it is reckoned ominous, and their birth is recorded very particularly ; so that 
you may know their age by consulting the register, which, however, has not been 
kept above a thousand years past, or at least has been destroyed by time or public 
disturbances. But the usual way of computing how old they are, is by asking 

11 



i62 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

mouth. I am not ignorant how much I have been censured for 
mentioning this last particular. Detractors are pleased to think it 
improbable that so illustrious a person should descend to give so 
great a mark of distinction to a creature so inferior as I. Neither 
am I ignorant how apt some travellers are to boast of extra- 
ordinary favours they have received. But if these censurers were 
better acquainted with the noble and courteous disposition of the 
Houyhnhnms they would soon change their opinion.'* 

The surprise here, the audacity of circumstantial evidence, the 
astounding gravity of the speaker, who is not ignorant how much he 
has been censured, the nature of the favour conferred, and the 
respectful exultation at the receipt of it, are surely complete ; it is 
truth topsy-turvy, entirely logical and absurd. 

As for the humour and conduct of this famous fable, I suppose 
there is no person who reads but must admire ; as for the moral, I 
think it horrible, shameful, unmanly, blasphemous ; and giant and 
great as this Dean is, I say we should hoot him. Some of this 
audience mayn't have read the last part of Gulliver, and to such I 
would recall the advice of the venerable Mr. Punch to persons about 
to marry, and say " Don't" AVhen Gulliver first lands among the 
Yahoos, the naked howling wretches clamber up trees and assault 
him, and he describes himself as " almost stifled with the filth which 
fell about him." The reader of the fourth part of " Gulliver s Travels '* 
is like the hero himself in this instance. It is Yahoo language : a 
monster gibbering slirieks, and gnashing imprecations against man- 
kind — tearing down all shreds of modesty, past all sense of manli- 

them what kings or great persons they can remember, and then consulting history ; 
for infallibly the last prince in their mind did not begin his reign after they were 
fourscore years old. 

"They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld, and the women more 
horrible than the men ; besides the usual deformities in extreme old age, they 
acquired an additional ghastliness, in proportion to their number of years, which is 
not to be described ; and among half-a-dozen, I soon distinguished which was the 
eldest, although there %vas not above a century or two between them." — Gulliver's 
Travels, 



SWIFT, 163 

ness and shame ; filthy in word, filthy in thought, fiirious, raging, 
obscene. 

And dreadful it is to think that Swift knew the tendency of his 
creed — the fatal rocks towards which his logic desperately drifted. 
That last part of " Gulliver " is only a consequence of what has gone 
before ; and tl>e worthlessness of all mankind, the pettiness, cruelty, 
pride, imbecility, the general vanity, the foolish pretension, the mock 
greatness, the pompous dulness, the mean aims, the base successes — 
all these were present to him ; it was with the din of these curses of 
the world, blasphemies against heaven, shrieking in his ears, that he 
began to write his dreadful allegory — of which the meaning is that 
man is utterly wicked, desperate, and imbecile, and his passions are 
so monstrous, and his boasted powers so mean, that he is and 
deserves to be the slave of brutes, and ignorance is better than his 
vaunted reason. What had this man done ? what secret remorse was 
rankling at his heart ? what fever was boiling in him, that he should 
see all the world blood-shot? We view the world with our own 
eyes, each of us ; and we make from within us the world we see. A 
weary heart gets no gladness out of sunshine; a selfish man is 
sceptical about friendship, as a man with no ear doesn't care for 
music. A frightful self-consciousness it must have been, which 
looked on mankind so darkly through those keen eyes of Swift. 

A remarkable story is told by Scott, of Delany, who interrupted 
Archbishop King and Swift in a conversation which left the prelate 
in tears, and from which Swift rushed away with marks of strong 
terror and agitation in his countenance, upon which the Archbishop 
said to Delany, " You have just met the most unhappy man on 
earth ; but on the subject of his WTetchedness you must never ask a 
question." 

The most unhappy man on earth; — Miserrimus — what a 
character of him ! And at this time all the great wits of England 
had been at his feet. All Ireland had shouted after him, and 
worshipped him as a liberator, a saviour, the greatest Irish patriot 
and citizen. Dean Drapier Bickerstaflf Gulliver — the most famous 



i64 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

statesmen, and the greatest poets of his day, had applauded him, 
and done him homage; and at this time, writing over to Bolingbroke 
from Ireland, he says, " It is time for me to have done with the 
world, and so I would if I could get into a better before I was called 
into the best, and not to die here in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a holey 
We have spoken about the men, and Swift's behaviour to them ; 
and now it behoves us not to forget that there are certain other 
persons in the creation who had rather intimate relations with the 
great Dean.* Two women whom he loved and injured are known 
by every reader of books so familiarly that if we had seen them, or if 
they had been relatives of our own, we scarcely could have known 
them better. Who hasn't in his mind an image of Stella ? \\Tio 
does not love her ? Fair and tender creature : pure and affectionate 
heart ! Boots it to you, now that you have been at rest for a hundred 
and twenty years, not divided in death from the cold heart which 
caused yours, whilst it beat, such faithful pangs of love and grief — 
boots it to you now, that the whole world loves and deplores you ? 
Scarce any man, I believe, ever thought of that grave, that did not 
cast a flower of pity on it, and write over it a sweet epitaph. Gentle 

* The name of Varina has been thrown into the shade by those of the famous 
Stella and Vanessa ; but she had a story of her own to tell about the blue eyes of 
young Jonathan. One may say that the book of Swift's Life opens at places kept 
by these blighted flowers ! Varina must have a paragraph. 

She was a Miss Jane Waryng, sister to a college chum of his. In 1696, when 
Swift was nineteen years old, we find him writing a love-letter to her, beginning, 
"Impatience is the most inseparable quality of a lover." But absence made a 
great difference in his feelings ; so, four years afterwards, the tone is changed. He 
writes again, a very curious letter, offering to marry her, and putting the offer in 
such a way that nobody could possibly accept it. 

After dwelling on his poverty, &c. he says, conditionally, **I shall be blessed 
to have you in my arms, without regarding whether your person be beautiful, or 
your fortune large. Cleanliness in the first, and competency in the second, is all I 
ask for ! " 

The editors do not tell us what became of Varina in life. One would be elad 
to know that she met with some worthy partner, and lived long enough to sec her 
little boys laughing over Lilliput, without any arriire pensie of a sad character 
about the great Dean ! 



SWIFT, 165 

lady, so lovely, so loving, so unhappy ! you have had countless 
champions ; millions of manly hearts mourning for you. From 
generation to generation we take up the fond tradition of your 
beauty ; we watch and follow your tragedy, your bright morning love 
and purity, your constancy, your grief, your sweet martyrdom. We 
know your legend by heart. You are one of the saints of English story. 
And if Stella's love and innocence are charming to contemplate, I 
will say that in spite of ill-usage, in spite of drawbacks, in spite of 
mysterious separation and union, of hope delayed and sickened heart 
— in the teeth of Vanessa, and that little episodical aberration which 
plunged Swift into such woful pitfalls and quagmires of amorous per- 
plexity — in spite of the verdicts of most women, I believe, who, as 
far as my experience and conversation go, generally take Vanessa's 
part in the controversy — in spite of the tears which Swift caused 
Stella to shed, and the rocks and barriers which fate and temper 
interposed, and which prevented the pure course of that true love 
from running smoothly — the brightest part of Swift's story, the pure 
star in that dark and tempestuous life of Swift's, is his love for 
Hester Johnson. It has been my business, professionally of course, 
to go through a deal of sentimental reading in my time, and to 
acquaint myself with love-making, as it has been described in various 
languages, and at various ages of the world ; and I know of nothing 
more manly, more tender, more exquisitely touching, than some of 
these brief notes, written in what Swift calls " his little language " in 
his journal to Stella.* He writes to her night and morning often. 

* A sentimental ChampoUion might find a good deal of matter for his art, in 
expounding the symbols of the ** Little Language." Usually, Stella is "M.D.," 
but sometimes her companion, Mrs. Dingley, is included in it Swift is ** Presto ; " 
also P.D.F.R. We have "Good-night, M.D. ; Night, M.D. ; Little, M.D. ; 
Stellakins ; Pretty Stelk ; Dear, roguish, unpudent, pretty M.D." Every now 
and then he breaks into rhyme, as — 

•* I wish you both a merry new year, 

Roast-beef, minced-pies, and good strong beer. 

And me a share of your good cheer, 

That I was there, as you were here, 

And you are a little saucy dear." 



i66 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

He never sends away a letter to her but he begins a new one on the 
same day. He can't bear to let go her kind little hand, as it were. 
He knows that she is thinking of him, and longing for him far away 
in Dublin yonder. He takes her letters from under his pillow and 
talks to them, familiarly, paternally, with fond epithets and pretty 
caresses — as he would to the sweet and artless creature who loved 
him. "Stay," he writes one morning — it is the 14th of December, 
1 7 10 — " Stay, I will answer some of your letter this morning in bed. 
Let me see. Come and appear, little letter ! Here I am, says he, 
and what say you to Stella this morning fresh and fasting ? And can 
Stella read this writing without hurting her dear eyes ? " he goes on, 
after more kind prattle and fond whispering. The dear eyes shine 
clearly upon him then — the good angel of his life is witli him and 
blessing him. Ah, it was a hard fate that wrung from them so many 
tears, and stabbed pitilessly that pure and tender bosom. A hard 
fate : but would she have changed it ? I have heard a woman say 
that she would have taken Swift's cruelty to have had his tenderness- 
He had a sort of worship for her whilst he wounded her. He speaks 
of her after she is gone ; of her wit, of her kindness, of her grace, 
of her beauty, with a simple love and reverence that are indescribably 
touching ; in contemplation of her goodness his hard heart melts into 
pathos ; his cold rhyme kindles and glows into poetry, and he falls 
down on his knees, so to speak, before the angel whose life he had 
embittered, confesses his own wretchedness and unworthiness, and 
adores her with cries of remorse and love : — 



** When on my sickly couch I lay, 
Impatient both of night and day, 
And groaning in unmanly strains, 
Called every power to ease my pains, 
Then Stella ran to my relief, 
AVith cheerful face and inward grief, 
And though by heaven's severe decree 
She suffers hourly more than me. 
No cruel master could require 
From slaves employed for daily hire, 



SWIFT, 167 

What Stella, by her friendship warmed, 
With vigour and delight performed. 
Now, with a soft and silent tread, 
Unheard she moves about my bed : 
My sinking spirits now supplies 
With cordials in her hands and. eyes. 
Best patron of true friends ! beware ; 
Vou pay too dearly for your care 
If, while your tenderness secures 
My life, it must endanger yours : 
For such a fool was never found 
Who pulled a palace to the ground. 
Only to have the ruins made 
Materials for a house decayed." 

One little triumph Stella had in her life — one dear little piece of 
injustice was performed in her favour, for which I confess, for my 
part, I can't help thanking fate and the Dean. That other person was 
sacrificed to her — that — that young woman, who Ih^ed five doors from 
Dr. Swift's lodgings in Bury Street, and who flattered him, and made 
love to him in such an outrageous manner — ^Vanessa was thrown over. 

Swift did not keep Stella's letters to him in reply to those he 
wrote to her.* He kept Bolingbroke's, and Pope's, and Harley's, 

* The following passages are from a paper begup by Swift on the evening of 
the day of her death, Jan. 28, 1727-8 : — 

**She was sickly from her childhood, until about the age of fifteen ; but then 
she grew into perfect health, and was looked upon as one of the most beautiful, 
.graceful, and agreeable young women in Ix)ndon— only a little too fat. Her hair 
was blacker than a raven, and every feature of her face in perfection. 

** . . . . Properly speaking" — he goes on, with a calmness which, imder 
* the circumstances, is terrible — "she has been dying six months ! . . . . 

** Never was any of her sex bom with better gifts of the mind, or who more 

improved them by reading and conversation All of us who had the 

happiness of her friendship agreed unanimously, that in an afternoon's or evening's 
conversation she never failed before we parted of delivering the best thing that was 
said in the company. Some of us have written down several of her sayings, or 
what the French call bom niots, wherein she excelled beyond belief." 

The specimens on record, however, in the Dean's paper, called ** Bons Mots de 
Stella," scarcely bear out this last part of the panegyric But the following prove 
her wit : — 

** A gentleman who had been very silly and pert in her company, at last b^an 



i68 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and Peterborough's : but Stella, " very carefully," the Lives say, kept 
Swift's. Of course : that is the way of the world : and so we cannot 
tell what her style was, or of what sort were the little letters which 
the Doctor placed there at night, and bade to appear from under his 
pillow of a morning. But in Letter IV. of that famous collection he 
describes his lodging in Bury Street, where he has the first-floor^ 
a dining-room and bed-chamber, at eight" shillings a week ; and in 
Letter VI. he says " he has visited a lady just come to town," whose 
name somehow is not mentioned; and in Letter VIII. he enters a 
query of Stella's — " What do you mean * that boards near me, that I 
dine with now and then ? ' What the deuce ! You know whom 
I have dined with every day since I left you, better than I do." Of 
course she does. Of course Swift has not the slightest idea of what 
she means. But in a few letters more it turns out that the Doctor has 
been to dine " gravely " with a Mrs. Vanhomrigh : then that he has 
been to " his neighbour : " then that he has been unwell, and means 
to dine for the whole week with his neighbour ! Stella was quite 
right in her previsions. She saw from the very first hint, what was 
going to happen ; and scented Vanessa in the air.* The rival is at 

to grieve at remembering the loss of a child lately dead. A bishop sitting by com- 
forted him — that he should be easy, because * the child was gone to heaven.' * No, 
my lord, ' said she ; * that is it which most grieves him, because he is sure never to 
see his child there. ' 

"When she was extremely ill, her physician said, * Madam, you are near the 
bottom of the hill, but we will endeavour to get you up again. * She answered, 
* Doctor, I fear I shall be out of breath before I get up to the top.' 

**A very dirty clergyman of her acquaintance, who affected smartness and" 
repartees, was asked by some of the company how his nails came to be so dirty. 
He was at a loss ; but she solved the difficulty by saying, * The Doctor's nails grew 
dirty by scratching himself.' 

** A Quaker apothecary sent her a vial, corked ; it had a broad brim, and a label 
of paper about its neck. * What is that ? ' — said she — *,my apothecary's son ! ' The- 
ridiculous resemblance, and the suddenness of the question, set us all a-laughing.** 
—Swift's Works^ Scott's Ed. vol. ix. 295-6. 

* " I am so hot and lazy after my morning's walk, that I loitered at Mrs. Vaiv- 
homrigh's, where my best gown and periwig was, and out of mere listlessness ditit- 
there^ very often ; so I did to-day." — Journal to Stella, [Mrs. Vanhomrigh, 



SWIFT. 169 

the Dean's feet. The pupil and teacher are reading together, and 
drinking tea together, and going to prayers together, and learning 
Latin together, and conjugating amOy amas^ amavi together. The 
little language is over for poor Stella. By the rule of grammar and 
the course of conjugation, doesn't amavi come after amo and amas 9 

The loves of Cadenus and Vanessa * you may peruse in Cadenus's 
own poem on the subject, and in poor Vanessa's vehement expostu- 
latory verses and letters to him; she adores him, implores him, 
admires him, thinks him something god-like, and only prays to be 

admitted to lie at his feetj As they are bringing him home from 

Mrs. Vanhomrigh, "Vanessa's" mother, was the widow of a Dutch merchast 
who held lucrative appointments in King William's time. The family settled in 
London in 1 709, and had a house in Burjr Street, St. James's— a street made 
notable by such residents as Swift and Steele ; and, in our own time, Moore and 
Crabbe. 

• " Vanessa was excessively vain. The character given of her by Cadenus is 
fine painting, but in general fictitious. She was fond of dress ; impatient to be 
admired ; very romantic in her turn of mind ; superior, in her own opinion, to all 
her sex ; full of pertness, gaiety, and pride ; not without some agreeable accom- 
plishments, but far from being either beautiful or genteel ; .... happy in 
the thoughts of being reported Swift's concubine, but still aiming and intending to 
be his wife." — Lord Orrery. 

t ** You bid me be easy, and you would see me as often as you could. You 
had better have said, as often as you can get the better of your inclinations so 
much ; or as often as you remember there was such a one in the world. If you 
continue to treat me as you do, you will not be made uneasy by me long. It is 
impossible to describe what I have sufiered since I saw you last : I am sure I could 
have borne the rack much better than those killing, killing words of yours. Some- 
times I have resolved to die without seeing you more ; but those resolves, to your 
misfortune, did not last long ; for there is something in human nature that prompts 
one so to find relief in this world I must give way to it, and beg you would see me, 
and speak kindly to me ; for I am sure you'd nqt condemn any one to suffer what 
I have done, could you but know it The reason I write to you is, because I cannot 
tell it to you, should I see you ; for when I begin to complain, then you are angry, 
and there is something in your looks so awfiil that it strikes me dumb. Oh ! that 
you may have but so much regard for me left that this complaint may touch your 
soul with pity. I say as little as ever I can ; did you but know what I thought, 
I am sure it would move you to forgive me ; and believe I cannot help telling yoa 
this and live. "—Van essa. (M. i 7 14. ) 



I70 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

church, those divine feet of Dr. Swift's are found pretty often in 
Vanessa's parlour. He likes to be admired and adored. He finds 
Miss Vanhomrigh to be a woman of great taste and spirit, and beauty 
and wit, and a fortune too. He sees her every day ; he does not tell 
Stella about the business : until the impetuous Vanessa becomes too 
fond of him, until the Doctor is quite frightened by the young 
woman's ardour, and confounded by her warmth. He wanted to 
marry neither of them — that I believe was the trutli ; but if he had 
not married Stella, Vanessa would have had him in spite of himself. 
When he went back to Ireland, his Ariadne, not content to remain in 
her isle, pursued the fugitive Dean. In vain he protested, he vowed, 
he soothed, and bullied ; the news of the Dean's marriage with Stella 
at last came to her, and it killed her — she died of that passion.* 

* ** If we consider Swift's behaviour, so far only as it relates to women, we 
shall find that he looked upon them rather as busts than as whole figures. " — 
Orrery. 

"You must have smiled to have found his house a constant seraglio of very 
virtuous women, who attended him from morning to night." — Orrery. 

A correspondent of Sir Walter Scott's furnished him with the materials on 
which to found the following interesting passage about Vanessa — after she had 
retired to cherish her passion in retreat : — 

"Marley Abbey, near Celbridge, where Miss Vanhomrigh resided, is built 
much in the form of a real cloister, especially in its external appearance. An aged 
man (upwards of ninety, by his own account) showed the grounds to my corre- 
spondent He was the son of Mrs. Vanhomrigh's gardener, and used to work with 
his father in the garden while a boy. He remembered the unfortunate Vanessa 
well ; and his account of her corresponded with the usual description of her person, 
especially as to her embonpoiiiL He said she went seldom abroad, and saw little 
company : her constant amusement was reading, or walking in the garden. . . . 
She avoided company, and was always melancholy, save when Dean Swift was 
there, and then she seemed happy. The garden was to an uncommon degree 
crowded with laurels. The old. man said that when Miss Vanhomrigh expected 
the Dean she always planted with her own hand a laurel or two against his arrivaL 
He showed her favourite seat, still called * Vanessa's bower.' Three or four trees 
and some laurels indicate the spot .... There were two seats and a rude 
table within the bower, the opening of which commanded a view of the Liffey. 
^ . . . In this sequestered spot, according to the eld gardener's account, the 
Dean and Vanessa used often to sit, with books and writing-materials on the table 
before them." — Scott's Swifts voL L pp. 246-7. [" . . . . But 



SWIFT. 171 

And when she died, and Stella heard that Swift had written 
beautifully regarding her, **That doesn't surprise me," said Mrs. 
Stella, "for we all know the Dean could write beautifully about 
a broomstick." A woman — a true woman ! Would you have had 
one of them forgive the other ? 

In a note in his biography, Scott says that his friend Dr. Tuke, of 
Dublin, has a lock of Stella's hair, enclosed in a paper by Swift, on 
which are written, in the Dean's hand, the words : ^^Only a womatCs 
hairr An instance, says Scott, of the Dean's desire to veil his 
feelings under the mask of cynical indifference. 

** . . . . But Miss Vanhomrigh, irritated at the situation in which she found 
herself, determined on bringing to a crisis those expectations of a union with the 
object of her affections — to the hope of which she had clung amid every vicissitude 
of his conduct towards her. The most probable bar was his undefined connec- 
tion with Mrs. Jolmson, which, as it must have been perfectly known to her, had, 
doubtless, long elicited her secret jealousy, although only a single hint to that 
purpose is to be found in their correspondence, and that so early as I7I3» when 
she %vrites to him — then in Ireland — *If you are very happy, it is ill-natured of 
you not to tell me so, except ''tis wfiat is inconsistent with mine,* Her silence and 
patience under this state of uncertainty for no less than eight years, must have 
been partly owing to her awe for Swift, and partly, perhaps, to the weak state of 
her rival's health, which, from year to year, seemed to annoimce speedy dissolution. 
At length, however, Vanessa's impatience prevailed, and she ventured on the 
decisive step of writing to Mrs. Johnson herself, requesting to know the nature of 
that connection. Stella, in reply, informed her of her marriage with the Dean ; 
and full of the highest resentment against Swift for having given another female 
such a right in him as Miss Vanhomrigh's inquiries implied, she sent to him her 
rival's letter of interrogatories, and, ^^ithout seeing him, or awaiting his reply, 
retired to the house of Mr. Ford, near Dublin. Every reader knows Xhe con- 
sequence. Swift, in one of those paroxysms of fury to which he was liable, both 
from temper and disease, rode instantly to Marley Abbey. As he entered the 
apartment, the sternness of his countenance, which was peculiarly formed to 
express the fiercer passions, struck the unfortunate Vanessa with such terror that 
she could scarce ask whether he would not sit down. He answered by flinging a 
letter on the table, and, instantly leaving the house, remounted his horse,, and 
returned to Dublin. When Vanessa opened the packet, she only found her own 
letter to Stella. It was her death-warrant She sunk at once under the disap- 
pointment of the delayed yet cherished hopes which had so long sickened her 
heart, and beneath the unrestrained wrath of him for whose sake she had indulged 
them. How long she survived the last interview is uncertain, but the time does 
not seem to have exceeded a few weeks." — Scott. 



172 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

• 

See the various notions of critics ! Do those words indicate 
indifference or an attempt to hide feeling ? Did you ever hear or 
read four words more pathetic ? Only a woman's hair : only love, 
only fidelity, only purity, innocence, beauty ; only the tenderest heart 
in the world stricken and wounded, and passed away now out of 
reach of pangs of hope deferred, love insulted, and pitiless deser- 
tion : — only that lock of hair left ; and memory and remorse, for the 
guilty, lonely wretch, shuddering over the grave of his victim. 

And yet to have had so much love, he must have given some. 
Treasures of wit and wisdom, and tenderness, top, must that man 
have had locked up in the caverns of his gloomy heart, and shown 
fitfully to one or two whom he took in there. But it was not good to 
visit that place. People did not remain there long, and suffered for 
having been there.* He shrank away from all affections sooner or 
later. Stella and Vanessa both died near him, and away from him. 
He had not heart enough to see them die. He broke from his fastest 
friend, Sheridan ; he slunk away from his fondest admirer. Pope. 
His laugh jars on one's ear after seven score years. He was always 
alone — alone and gnashing in the darkness, except when Stella's 
sweet smile came and shone upon him. When that went, silence and 
utter night closed over him. An immense genius : an awful downfall 
and ruin. So great a man he seems to me, that thinking of him is 
like thinking of an empire falling. We have other great names to 
mention — none I think, however, so great or so gloomy. 

* ** M. Swift est Rabelais dans son bon sens, et vivant en bonne compagnie. 
II n'a pas, k la verite, la galte du premier, mais il a toute la finesse, la raison, le 
choix, le bon goflt qui manquent h. notre cur^ de Meudon. Ses vers sont d'un go(it 
singulier, et presque inimitable ; la bonne plaisanterie est son partage en vers et en 
prose ; mais pour le bien entendre il faut faire un petit voyage dans son pays."— 
Voltaire : Lettres sur Us Anglais, Let. 22. 



( 173 ) 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 

A GREAT number of years ago, before the passing of the Reform 
Bill, there existed at Cambridge a certain debating-club, called 
the " Union ; " and I remember that there was a tradition amongst the 
undergraduates who frequented that renowned school of oratory, that 
the great leaders of the Opposition and Government had their eyes 
upon the University Debating-Club, and that if a man distinguished 
himself there he ran some chance of being returned to Parliament as 
a great nobleman*s nominee. So Jones of John's, or Thomson of 
Trinity, would rise in their might, and draping themselves in their 
gowns, rally round the monarchy, or hurl defiance at priests and 
kings, with the majesty of Pitt or the fire of Mirabeau, fancying all 
the while that the great nobleman's emissary was listening to the 
debate from the back benches, where he was sitting with the family 
seat in his pocket. Indeed, the legend said that one or two young 
Cambridge men, orators of the " Union,'* were actually caught up 
thence, and carried down to Cornwall or old Sarum, and so into 
Parliament. And many a young fellow deserted the jogtrot 
University curriculum, to hang on in the dust behind the fervid 
wheels of the parliamentary chariot. 

Where, I have often wondered, were the sons of Peers and 
Members of Parliament in Anne's and George's time ? Were they all 
in the army, or hunting in the country, or boxing the watch ? How 
was it that the young gentlemen from the University got such a 
prodigious number of places? A lad composed a neat copy of 
verses at Christchurch or Trinity, in which the death of a great 
personage was bemoaned, the French king assailed, the Dutch or 
Prince Eugene complimented, or the reverse ; and the party in power 



174 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

was presently to provide for the young poet ; and a commissionership, 
or a post in the Stamps, or the secretaryship of an Embassy, or a 
clerkship in the Treasury, came into the bard's possession. A 
wonderful fruit-bearing rod was that of Busby s. What have men of 
letters got in our time ? Think, not only of Swift, a king fit to rule 
in any time or empire — but Addison, Steele, Prior, Tickell, Congreve, 
John Gay, John Dennis, and many others, who got public employment, 
and pretty little pickings out of the public purse.* The wits of whose 
names we shall treat in this lecture and two following, all (save one) 
touched the King's coin, and had, at some period of their lives, a 
happy quarter-day coming round for them. 

They all began at school or college in the regular way, producing 
paneg)Tics upon public characters, what were called odes upon public 
events, battles, sieges, court marriages and deaths, in which the gods 
of Olympus and the tragic muse were fatigued with invocations, 
according to the fashion of the time in France and in England. " Aid 
us. Mars, Bacchus, Apollo," cried Addison, or Congreve, singing of 
William or Marlborough. " AccoureZy chastcs nymphcs de Parjiasse^^ 
says Boileau, celebrating the Grand Monarch. ''^ Des sons que ma 

• The following is a conspccttis of them : — 
Addison. — Commissioner of Appeals ; Under Secretary of State ; Secretary to 

the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ; Keeper of the Records in Ireland ; 

Lord of Trade ; and one of the Principal Secretaries of State, 

successively. 
Steele. — Commissioner of the Stamp Office ; Surveyor of the Royal Stables at 

Hampton Court ; and Governor of the Royal Company of Comedians ; 

Commissioner of ** Forfeited Estates in Scotland," 
Prior. — Secretary to the Embassy at the Hague ; Gentleman of the Bedchamber 

to King William ; Secretary to the Embassy in France ; Under 

Secretary of State ; Ambassador to France. 
Tickell. — Under Secretary of State ; Secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland. 
Congreve. — Conmiissioner for licensing Hackney Coaches ; Commissioner for 

Wine Licences ; place in the Pipe Office ; post in the Custom House ; 

Secretary of Jamaica. 
Gay. — Secretary to the Earl of Clarendon (when Ambassador to Hanover). 
John Dennis. — A place in the Custom House. 

** En Angletferre . . . . les Icttres sont plus en honneur qu'icl" — Voltaire : 
Lettra sur les Anglais, Let. 20. 



COXCREVE AXD ADDISOX. 175 

lyre enfante marquez en bicn la cadence, d vous ventSy faitcs silence f 
je vais parler dc Louis ! " Schoolboys' themes and foundation 
exercises are the only relics left now of this scholastic fashion. The 
Olympians are left quite undisturbed in their mountain. AMiat man 
of note, what contributor to the poetry of a country newspaper, would 
now think of wTiting a congratulatory ode on the birth of the heir to 
a dukedom, or the marriage of a nobleman ? In the past century 
the young gentlemen of the Universities all exercised themselves at 
these queer compositions ; and some got fame, and some gained 
patrons and places for life, and many more took nothing by these 
eflforts of what they were pleased to call their muses. 

AViHiam Congreve's* Pindaric Odes are still to be found in 
" Johnson's Poets," that now unfrequented poets'-comer, in which so 
many forgotten big-wigs have a niche ; but though he was also voted 
to be one of the greatest tragic poets of any day, it ^'as Congreve's 
wit and humour which first recommended him to courtly fortune. 
And it is recorded that his first play, the " Old Bachelor," brought 
our author to the notice of that great patron of English muses, 
Charles Montague Lord Halifax — who, being desirous to place so 
eminent a wit in a state of ease and tranquillity, instantly made him 
one of the Commissioners for licensing hackney-coaches, bestowed 
on him soon after a place in the Pipe Office, and likewise a post in 
the Custom House of the value of 600/. 

A commissionership of hackney-coaches — a post in the Custom 
House— a place in the Pipe Office, and all for writing a comedy ! 
Doesn't it sound like a fable, that place in the Pipe Office ? t " Ah, 

* He was the son of Colonel William Congreve, and grandson of Richard 
Congreve, Esq., of Congreve and S tret ton in Staffordshire — a very ancient 
family. 

+ ** Pipe. — Pipc^ in law, is a roll in the Exchequer, called also ^^ great roll, 
*^ Pipe Office is an office in which a person called the Clerk of the Pipe makes 

out leases of Crown lands, by warrant from the Lord Treasurer, or Commissioners 

of the Treasury, or Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

"Clerk of the Pipe makes up all accounts of sheriffs, &c." — Rees : Cyclopad. 

Art. Pipe. IPipe Office 




176 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

rheureux temps que celui de ces fables ! " Men of letters there still 
be : but 1 doubt whether any Pipe Offices are left. The public has 
smoked them long ago. 

Words, like men, pass current for a while with the public, and 
being known everywhere abroad, at length take their places in society ; 
so even the most secluded and refined ladies here present will have 
heard the phrase from their sons or brothers at school, and will 
permit me to call William Congreve, Esquire, the most eminent 
literary "swell" of his age. In my copy of ** Johnson's Lives" 
Congreve*s wig is the tallest, and put on with the jauntiest air of all 
the laurelled worthies. " I am the great Mr. Congreve," he seems to 
say, looking out from his voluminous curls. People called him the 
great Mr. Congreve.* From the beginning of his career until the 
end everybody admired him. Having got his education in Ireland, 
at the same school and college with Swift, he came to live in the 
Middle Temple, London, where he luckily bestowed no attention to 
the law ; but splendidly frequented the coffee-houses and theatres, 
and appeared in the side-box, the tavern, the Piazza, and the Mall, 
brilliant, beautiful, and victorious from the first. Everybody 
acknowledged the young chieftain. The great Mr. Dryden f declared 

** Pipe Office. — Spclman thinks so called, because the papers were kept in a 
large pipe or cask. 

** * These be at last brought into that office of Her Majesty's Exchequer, which 
we, by a metaphor, do call the pipe .... because the whole receipt is finally 
conveyed into it by means of divers small pipes or quills.' — Bacox : The Office of 
Aliettatious. " 

[We are indebted to Richardson's Dictionary for this fragment of erudition. 
But a modern man of letters can know little on these points — by experience.] 

♦ ** It has been observed that no change of Ministers affected him in the least ; 
nor was he ever removed from any post that was given to him, except to a better. 
His place in the Custom House, and his office of Secretary in Jamaica, are said to 
have brought him in upwards of twelve hundred a year." — Biog, BriL, Art, 
Congreve. 

t Dryden addressed his " twelfth epistle " to ** My dear friend, Mr. Congreve," 
on his comedy called the ** Double Dealer," in which he says : — 
** Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please ; 
Yet, doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease. [In 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON, 177 

that he was equal to Shakspeare, and bequeathed to him his own 
undisputed poetical crown, and writes of him : " Mr. Congreve has 
done me the favour to review the * -^neis/ and compare my version 
with the original. I shall never be ashamed to own that this 
excellent young man has showed me many faults which I have 
endeavoured to correct." 

The " excellent young man " was but three or four and twenty 
when the great Dryden thus spoke of him : the greatest literary chief 
in England, the veteran field-marshal of letters, himself the marked 
man of all Europe, and the centre of a school of wits who daily 
gathered round his chair and tobacco-pipe at Wills*. Pope dedicated 
his " Iliad " to him ; * Swift, Addison, Steele, all acknowledge 

In differing talents both adorned their age : 

One for the study, t'other for the stage. 

But both to Congreve justly shall submit, 

One match'd in judgment, both overmatched in wit. 

In him all beauties of this age we see," &c. &c. 

The *' Double Dealer," however, was not so palpable a hit as the ** Old Bachelor," 
but, at first, met with opposition. The critics having fallen foul of it, our "Swell" 
applied the scourge to that presumptuous body, in the ** Epistle Dedicatory " to 
the '* Right Honourable Charles Montague." 

*' I was conscious," said he, ** where a true critic might have put me upon my 
defence. I was prepared for the attack, .... but I have not heard anything 
said sufficient to provoke an answer." 

He goes on — 

** But there is one thing at which I am more concerned than all the false criti- 
cisms that are made upon me ; and that is, some of the ladies are offended. I am 
heartily sorry for it ; for I declare, I would rather disoblige all the critics in the 
world than one of the fair sex. They are concerned that I have represented some 
women vicious and affected. How can I help it ? It is the business of a comic 

poet to paint the vices and follies of human kind I should be very glad of 

an opportunity to make my compliments to those ladies nvho are offended. But 
they can no more expect it in a comedy, than to be tickled by a mrgeon when he is 
letting their blood,'*'' 

♦ " Instead of endeavouring to raise a vain monument to myself, let me leave 
behind me a memorial of my friendship with one of the most valuable men as well 
as finest writers of my age and country — one who has tried, and knows by his own 
experience, how hard an undertaking it is to do justice to Homer — and one who, 
I am sure, seriously rejoices with me at the period of my labours. To him, there- 

12 




178 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

Congreve's rank, and lavish compliments upon him. Voltaire went 
to wait upon him as on one of the Representatives of Literature ; 
and the man who scarce praises any other living person — ^who flung 
abuse at Pope, and Swift, and Steele, and Addison — the Grub 
Street Timon, old John Dennis,* was hat in hand to Mr. Con- 
greve ; and said that when he retired from the stage. Comedy went 
with him. 

Nor was he less victorious elsewhere. He was admired in the 
drawing-rooms as well as the coffee-houses ; as much beloved in the 
side-box as on the stage. He loved, and conquered, and jilted the 
beautiful Bracegirdle,t the heroine of all his plays, the favourite of all 
the town of her day ; and the Duchess of Marlborough, Marlborough's 
daughter, had such an admiration of him, tliat when he died she had 
an ivory figure made to imitate him,J and a large wax doll with gouty 
feet to be dressed just as the great Congreve's gouty feet were dressed 
in his great lifetime. He saved some money by his Pipe Office, and 
his Custom House office, and his Hackney Coach office, and nobly 

fore, having brought this long work to a conclusion, I desire to dedicate it, and to 
have the honour and satisfaction of placing together in this manner the names of 
Mr. Congreve and of— A. Pope." — Postscript to Translation of the Iliad of Homer, 
Mar. 25, 1720. 

♦ ** When asked why he listened to the praises of Dennis, he said he had 
much rather be flattered than abused. Swift had a particular friendship for our 
author, and generally took him under his protection in his high authoritative 
maimer." — Thos. Davies : Dramatic Miscellanies. 

+ " Congreve was very intimate for years with Mrs. Bracegirdle, and lived in 
the same street, his house very near hers, until his acquaintance with the yoimg 
Duchess of Marlborough. He then quitted that house. The Duchess showed us 
a diamond necklace (which Lady Di. used after^-ards to wear) that cost seven 
thousand pounds, and was purchased with the money Congreve left her. How 
much better would it have been to have given it to poor Mrs. Bracegirdle."— 
Dr. Young. Spenc^s Anecdotes, 

t ** A glass was put in the hand of the statue, which was supposed to bow to 
her Grace and to nod in approbation of what she spoke to it." — Thos. Davies : 
Dramatic Miscellanies, 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON, 179 

left it, not to Bracegirdle, who wanted it,* but to tlie Duchess of 
Marlborough, who didn't t 

How can I introduce to you that merry and shameless Comic 
Muse who won him such a reputation ? Nell Gwynn's servant fought 
the other footman for having called his mistress a bad name ; and in 
like manner, and with pretty like epithets, Jeremy Collier attacked 
that godless, reckless Jezebel, the English comedy of his time, and 
called her what Nell Gwynn*s man's fellow-servants called Nell 
Gwynn's man's mistress. The servants of the theatre, Dryden, 
Congreve,^ and others, defended themselves with the same success, 

* The sum Congrevc left Mrs. Bracq^irdle was 200/., as is said in the 
** Dramatic Miscellanies " of Tom Davies ; where are some particulars about this 
channing actress and beautiful woman. 

She had a " lively aspect," says Tom, on the authority of Gibber, and "such a 
glow of health and cheerfulness in her countenance, as inspired everybody with 
desire." ** Scarce an au iience saw her that were not half of them her lovers." 

Congreve and Rowe courted her in the persons of their lovers. ** In Tamerlane^ 
Rowc courted her Selima, in the person of Axalla. . . . ; Congreve insinuated his 
addresses in his Valentine to her Angelica, in his * Love for Love ; ' in his Osmyn 
to her Almena, in the * Mourning Bride ; ' and, lastly, in his Mu^bel to her 
Millamant, in the *Way of the World.' Mirabel, the fine gentleman of the play, 
is, I believe, not very distant from the real character of Congreve." — Dramatic 
Miscellanies^ vol. iii. 1784. 

She retired from the stage when Mrs. Oldfield began to be the public favourite. 
She died in 1748, in the eighty-fifth year of her age. 

t Johnson calls his legacy the "accumulation of attentive parsimony, which," 
he continues, "though to her (the Duchess) superfluous and useless, might have 
given great assistance to the ancient family from which he descended, at that time, 
by the imprudence of his relation, reduced to difficulties and distress." — Lives of the 
Poets, 

\ He replied to Collier, in the pamphlet called ** Amendments of Mr. Collier's 
False and Imperfect Citations," &c. A specimen or two are subjoined : — 

"The greater part of these examples which he has produced are only 
demonstrations of his own impurity : they only savour of his utterance, and were 
sweet enough till tainted by his breath. 

" Where the expression is unblameable in its own pure and genuine signification, 
he enters into it, himself, like the evil spirit ; he possesses the innocent phrase, and 
makes it bellow forth his own blasphemies. 

"If I do not return him civilities in calling him names, it is because I am not 



i8o ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and for the same cause which set NelFs lackey fighting. She was a 
disreputable, daring, laughing, painted French baggage, that Comrc 
Muse. She came over from the Continent with Charles (who chose 
many more of his female friends there) at the Restoration — a wild, 
dishevelled Lais, \d\h eyes bright with wit and wine — a saucy court- 
favourite that sat at the King's knees, and laughed in his face, and 
when she showed her bold cheeks at her chariot-window, had some 
of the noblest and most famous people of the land bowing round her 
wheel. She was kind and popular enough, that daring Comedy, that 
audacious poor Nell : she was gay and generous, kind, frank, as such 
people can afford to be : and the men who lived with her and 
laughed with her, took her pay and drank her wine, turned out when 
the Puritans hooted her, to fight and defend her. But the jade was 
indefensible, and it is pretty certain her servants knew it. 

There is life and death going on in every thing : truth and lies 
always at battle. Pleasure is always warring against self-restraint. 
Doubt is always crying Psha! and sneering. A man in life, a 
humourist, in writing about life, sways over to one principle or the 
other, and laughs with the reverence for right and the love of truth in 
his heart, or laughs at these from the other side. Didn't I tell you 
that dancing was a serious business to Harlequin ? I have read two 
or three of Congreve's plays over before speaking of him ; and my 
feelings were rather like those, which I dare say most of us here have 
had, at Pompeii, looking at Sallust's house and the relics of an orgy: 
a dried wine-jar or two, a charred supper-table, the breast of a 
dancing-girl pressed against the ashes, the laughing skull of a jester : 
a perfect stillness round about, as the cicerone twangs his moral, and 

very well versed in his nomenclatures. ... I will only call him Mr. Collier, and 
that I will call him as often as I think he shall deserve it. 

"The corruption of a rotten divine is the generation of a sour critic." 
** Congreve," says Dr Johnson, ** a very young man, elated with success, and 
impatient of censure, assumed an air of confidence and security. . . . The dispute 
was protracted through two years ; but at last Comedy grew more modest, and 
Collier lived to see the reward of his labours in the reformation of the theatre." — 
Lift of Congreve, 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. i8i 

the blue sky shines calmly over the ruin. The Congreve Muse is 
dead, and her song choked in Time's ashes. We gaze at the 
skeleton, and wonder at the life which once revelled in its mad veins. 
We take the skull up, and muse over the frolic and daring, the wit, 
scorn, passion, hope, desire, with which that eppty bowl once 
fermented. We think of the glances that allured, the tears that 
melted, of the bright eyes that shone in thoSe vacant sockets ; and of 
lips whispering love, and cheeks dimpling with smiles, that once 
covered yon ghastly yellow framework. They used to call those 
teeth pearls once. See ! there 's the cup she drank from, the gold- 
chain she wore on her neck, the vase which held the rouge for her 
cheeks, her looking-glass, and the harp she used to dance to. Instead 
of a feast we find a gravestone, and in place of a mistress, a 
few bones ! 

Reading in these plays now, is like shutting your ears and looking 
at people dancing. AVhat does it mean ? the measures, the grimaces, 
the bowing, shuffling and retreating, the cavalier seul advancing upon 
those ladies — those ladies and men twirling round at the end in a 
mad galop, after which everybody bows and the quaint rite is 
celebrated. Without the music we can't understand that comic 
dance of the last century — its strange gravity and gaiety, its decorum 
or its indecorum. It has a jargon of its own quite unlike life ; a sort 
of mbral of its own quite unlike life too. I'm afraid it's a Heathen 
mystery, sy\nbolizing a Pagan doctrine ; protesting — ^as the Pompeians 
very likely were, assembled at their theatre and laughing at their 
games ; as Sallust and his friends, and their mistresses, protested, 
crowned with flowers, with cups in their hands — against the new, 
hard, ascetic, pleasure-hating doctrine whose gaunt disciples, lately 
passed over from the Asian shores of the Mediterranean, were for 
breaking tlie fair images of Venus and flinging the altars of Bacchus 
down. 

I fancy poor Congreve's theatre is a temple of Pagan delights, and 
mysteries not permitted except among heathens. I fear the theatre 
carries down that ancient tradition and worship, as masons have 



i82 EXGLISH HIMOURISTS. 

carried their secret signs and rites from temple to temple. Wlien the 
libertine hero carries off the beauty in the play, and the dotard is 
laughed to scom for hanng the young wife : in the ballad, when the 
poet bids his mistress to gather roses wliile she may, and warns her 
that old Time is, still a-flying : in the ballet, when honest Corydon 
courts Phillis under the treillage of the pasteboard cottage, and leers 
at her over the head of grandpapa in red stockings, who is opportunely 
asleep ; and when seduced by the invitations of the rosy youth she 
comes fon^ard to the footlights, and they perform on each other's 
tiptoes that/jj which you all know, and which is only interrupted by 
old grandpapa awaking from his doze at the pasteboard chilet 
(whither he returns to take another nap in case the young people 
get an encore): when Harlequin, splendid in youth, strength, and 
agility, arrayed in gold and a thousand colours, springs over the heads 
of coundess perils, leaps down the throat of be^rildered giants, and, 
dauntless and splendid, dances danger do^Ti : when Mr. Punch, that 
godless old rebel, breaks every law and laughs at it with odious 
triumph, outwits his lawyer, bullies the beadle, knocks his wife about 
the head, and hangs the hangman — don*t you see in the comedy, in 
the song, in the dance, in the ragged little Punch's puppet-show — the 
Pagan protest ? Doesn't it seem as if Life puts in its plea and sings 
its comment? Look how the lovers walk and hold each other's 
hands and whisper ! Sings the chorus — " There is nothing like love, 
there is nothing like youth, there is nothing like beauty of your spring- 
time. Look ! how old age tries to meddle with merry sport ! Beat 
him with his own crutch, the wrinkled old dotard ! There is nothing 
like youth, there is nothing like beauty, there is nothing like strength. 
Strength and valour win beauty and youth. Be brave and conquer. 
Be young and happy. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy ! Would you know the 
Segreto per esserfelicc ? Here it is, in a smiling mistress and a cup of 
Palemian." As the boy tosses the cup and sings his song — hark I 
what is that chaunt coming nearer and nearer ? What is that dirge 
which wi// disturb us? The lights of the festival bum dim — the 
cheeks turn pale — the voice quavers — and the cup drops on the 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 183 

floor. Who's there? Death and Fate are at the gate, and they 
will come in. 

Congreve*s comic feast flares with h'ghts, and round the table, 
emptying their flaming bowls of drink, and exchanging the wildest 
jests and ribaldry, sit men and women, waited on by rascally valets 
and attendants as dissolute as their mistresses — perhaps the very 
worst company in the world. There doesn't seem to be a pretence of 
morals. At the head of the table sits Mirabel or Belmour (dressed in 
the French fashion and -waited on by English imitators of Scapin and 
Frontin). Their calling is to be irresistible, and to conquer every- 
where. Like the heroes of the chivalry story, whose long-winded 
loves and combats they were sending out of fashion, they are always 
splendid and triumphant — overcome all dangers, vanquish all enemies, 
and win the beauty at the end. Fathers, husbands, usurers are the 
foes these champions contend with. They are merciless in old age, 
invariably, and an old man plays the part in the dramas which the 
wicked enchanter or the great blundering giant performs in the 
chivalry tales, who threatens and grumbles and resists — a huge stupid 
obstacle always overcome by the knight It is an old man with a 
money-box : Sir Belmour his son or nephew spends his money and 
laughs at him. It is an old man ^vith a young wife whom he locks 
up : Sir Mirabel robs him of his wife, trips up his gouty old heels and 
leaves the old hunks. The old fool, what business has he to hoard his 
money, or to lock up blushing eighteen ? Money is for youth, love 
is for youth, away with the old people. When Millamant is sixty, 
having of course divorced the first Lady Millamant, and married his 
fnend Doricourt's granddaughter out of the nursery — it will be his 
turn ; and young Belmour will make a fool of him. All this pretty 
morality you have in the comedies of William Congreve, Esq. They 
are full of \vit. Such manners as he observes, he observes with great 
humour ; but ah ! it's a weary feast, that banquet of wit where no love 
is. It palls very soon ; sad indigestions follow it and lonely blank 
headaches in the morning. 

I can't pretend to quote scenes from the splendid Congreve^ 




1 84 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

plays * — ^which are undeniably bright, witty, and daring — any more 
than I could ask you to hear the dialogue of a witty bargeman and a 

• The scene of Valentine's pretended madness in "Love for Love" is a 
splendid specimen of Congreve's daring manner : — 

" Scandal. — And have you given your master a hint of their plot upon him ? 

** Jeremy. — Yes, Sir ; he says he'll favour it, and mistake her for Angelica. 

** Scattdal, — It may make us sport. 

** Foresight. — Mercy on us ! 

** Valentine. — Husht — interrupt me not — I'll whisper predictions to thee, and 
thou shalt prophesie ; — I am truth, and can teach thy tongue a new trick, — I have 
told thee what's passed—now I'll tell what's to come :— Dost thou know what will 
happen to-morrow? Answer me not — for 1 will tell thee. To-morrow knaves 
will thrive thro' craft, and fools thro' fortune ; and honesty will go as it did, frost- 
nipt in a summer suit Ask me questions concerning to-morrow. 

** Scandal. — Ask him, Mr. Foresight. 

** Foresight. — Pray what will be done at Court ? 

** Valentine. — Scandal vf\\\ tell you ; — I am truth, I never come there. 

** Foresight. — In the city? 

** Valentine. — Oh, prayers will be said in empty churches at the usual hours. 
Yet you will see such zealous faces behind counters as if religion were to be sold 
in every shop. Oh, things will go methodically in the city, the clocks will strike 
twelve at noon, and the hom'd herd buzz in the Exchange at two. Husbands and 
wives will drive distinct trades, and care and pleasure separately occupy the 
family. Coffee-houses will be full of smoke and stratagem. And the cropt 
,prentice that sweeps his master's shop in the morning, may, ten to one, dirty his 
sheets before night. But there are two things, that you will see very strange ; 
which are, wanton wives with their legs at liberty, and tame cuckolds with chains 
about their necks. But hold, I must examine you before 1 go further ; you look 
suspiciously. Are you a husband ? 

** Foresight. — I am married. 

** Valentine. — Poor creature ! Is your wife of Covent-garden Parish ? 

** Foresight. — No; St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. 

** Valentine. — Alas, poor man ! his eyes are sunk, and his hands shrivelled; his 
legs dwindled, and his back bow'd. Pray, pray for a metamorphosis — change thy 
shape, and shake off age ; get thee Medea's kettle and be boiled anew ; come forth 
with lab'ring callous hands, and chine of steel, and Atlas* shoulders. Let 
Taliacotius trim the calves of twenty chairmen, and make thee pedestals to stand 
erect upon, and look matrimony in the face. Ha, ha, ha ! That a man should 
have a stomach to a wedding-supper, when the pidgeons ought rather to be laid to 
his feet ! Ha, ha, ha ! 

** Foresight. — His frenzy is very high now, Mr. Scandal. 

** Scandal. — I believe it is a spring-tide. 

•* Foresight. ^\QTy likely— truly; you understand these matters. Mr. Scandal, 



COXGREVE AND ADDISON. 185 

brilliant fishivoman exchanging compliments at Billingsgate; but 
some of his verses — they were amongst the most iamous lyrics of the 

I shall be very glad to confer with you about these things he has uttere<L His 
$3jii^^ are vecy mfsteiious and hieroglyphics]. 

" i'alinbne. — Oh 1 why would ^lyrf/fa he abseni from my eyes so long? 

« /.Tfflir-— She's here. Sir. 

"Mrs. fi/raigil.—^oir, Sbter! 

' ' Mrt. Frail. — O Lord '. what must I soy ? 

" Si-andal. — Humuar him. Madam, by all means. 

" Kjirxftn.'.— Where is she? Oh ! I see her : she comcs, lilte Riches, Health, 
and Liberty at once, lo a despairing, starving, and abandoned wretch. Oh— 
welcome, welcome ! 

" Mrs. Frail. — How d'ye. Sir? Can I serve you ? 

" I'jIiHtine. — Hark'ee — I have a secret lo tell you. F.ni/rmiiMi and the moon 
^hall meet us on Aleunl Laluios, and we'll be mamed in the dead of night. Uut 
say not a word. Hymen shall put his torch into a dark lanlhorn, that it may be 
secret ; and Jono shall give her peacock poppy-water, that he may fold hti o;>1lng 
tail ; and Argus's hundred eyes be shut — ha I Nobody shall know, but Jtrtmy, 

" .Uri. Frail.— fio, no ; we'll keep it secret ; it shall be done preienlly, 

" VaUntiae. — The Kooner the better, ytremy, come hither — closer — that none 
may overhftirus. Jrrtiny, I can tell you news : Angelica Is turned nun, and I nm 
turning friar, and yet we'll many one another in spite of the Pope. Gel me a cowl 
and beads, that I may play my part ; for she'll meet me two hours hence in black and 
white, and a long veil to cover the project, and we won't lee one anolber'n facet 'till 
we have done something lo lie ashamfd of, and then we'll blush once for nlL , , , 
" i'n/iT Tattle. 

" TattU. — Do you know me, Vateittinei 

" VaUiiliiie.—\'o<i !— who are you? No, I hope not. 

" Tatt/f.—l am >fi Ta/t/e, your friend. 

" Ka/m/i«^.— Myfriend ! Whaltodot I am no married man, and thou Canst 
not lye with my wife ; I am very poor, and thou canst not borrow money of me. 
Then, what employment have 1 for a friend ? 

" Tallle. — Hah '. A good Open Speaker, and not to be truiteU with a secret. 

" Aiisrliea. — Do you know me, Valcniinti 

" Valtnline.— Oh, very well 

" .^H^ir/iVa.— Who am I ? 

" VaUatitie. — You're a woman, one tO whom Heaven gave beauty w 
grafted roses on a brier. You arc the reflection of Heaven in a pon 
leaps at you is Sunk. You are all white — a sheet of spotless paper.- 
3ie born ; but you are lo be scrawled and blotted liy cvB&m|||s quill. | 
you ; for I loved a woman, and loved her so long that l^^^^^^ 
I found out what a. woman was good for. 

" Tallle.— Ay ! pr'ythee, what'* that I 




1 86 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

time, and pronounced equal to Horace by his contemporaries — may- 
give an idea of his power, of his grace, of his daring manner, his 

" Valentine. — Why, to keep a secret. 

''Tattle,-^0 Lord! 

" Valentine. — Oh, exceeding good to keep a secret ; for, though she should tell, 
yet she is not to be believed. 

•* Tfl///^.— Hah I Good again, faith. 

''^ Valentine. — I would have musick. Sing me the song that I like."— 
CoNGREVE : Love for Lair, 

There is a Mrs. Nicklehy^ of the year 1700, in Congreve's Comedy of "The 
Double Dealer," in whose character the author introduces some wonderful traits of 
roguish satire. She is practised on by the gallants of the play, and no more knows 
how to resist them than any of the ladies above quoted could resist Congreve. 

*^ Lady Plyant. — Oh ! reflect upon the honour of your conduct ! Offering to 
pervert me " [the joke is that the gentleman is pressing the lady for her daughter's 
hand, not for her own] — ** perverting me from the road of virtue, in which I have 
trod thus long, and never made one trip— not out faux pas. Oh, consider it : what 
would you have to answer for, if you should provoke me to frailty ! Alas I 
humanity is feeble, heaven knows ! Very feeble, and unable to support itself. 

** Mellefont, — Where am I ? Is it day? and am I awake? Madam 

** Lady Plyaut, — O Lord, ask me the question ! I'll swear I'll deny it— there- 
fore don't ask me ; nay, you shan't ask me, I swear I'll deny it. O Gemini, you 
have brought all the blood into my face ; I warrant I am as red as a turkey-cock. 
O fie, cousin Mellefont ! 

Mellefont. — Nay, Madam, hear me ; I mean 

Lady Plyant. — Hear you? No, no ; I'll deny you first, and hear you after- 
wards. For one does not know how one's mind may change upon hearing — 
hearing is one of the senses, and all the senses are fallible. I won't trust my 
honour, I assure you ; my honour is infallible and imcomatable. 

** Mellefont. — For heaven's sake. Madam 

** Lady Plyant. — Oh, name it no more. Bless me, how can you talk of heaven^ 
and have so much wickedness in your heart ? May be, you dosn't think it a sin. 
They say some of you gentlemen don't think it a sin ; but still, my honour, if it were 

no sin But, then, to marry my daughter for the convenience of frequent 

opportunities— I'll never consent to that : as sure as can be, I'll break the match- 

*^ Mellefont. — Death and amazement ! Madam, upon my knees 

** Lady Plyant — Nay, nay, rise up ! come, you shall see my good-nature. I 
know love is powerful, and nobody can help his passion. Tis not your fault ; nor 
I swear, it is not mine. How can I help it, if I have charms ? And how can you 
help it, if you are made a captive ? I swear it is pity it should be a fault ; but, 
my honour. Well, but your honour, too— but the sin ! Well, but the necessity. 
O Lord, here's somebody coming. I dare not stay. Well, you must consider of 






CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 1S7 

magnificence in compliment, and his polished sarcasm. He writes 
as if he was so accustomed to conquer, that he has a poor opinion of 
his victims. Nothing's new except their faces, says he: "every 
woman is the same." He says this in his first comedy, which he 
wrote languidly • in illness, when he was an " excellent young man.'* 
Richelieu at eighty could have hardly said a more excellent thing. 

When he advances to make one of his conquests, it is with a 
splendid gallantry, in full uniform and with the fiddles playing, like 
Grammont's French dandies attacking the breach of Lerida. 

" Cease, cease to ask her name," he writes of a young lady at the 
Wells at Tunbridge, whom he salutes with a magnificent compliment — 

** Cease, cease to ask her name, 
The crowned Muse's noblest theme, 
Whose glory by immortal fame 

Shall only sounded be. 
But if you long to know, 
Then look round yonder dazzling row : 
Who most does like an angel show, 
You may be sure 'tis she." 

Here are lines about another beauty, who perhaps was not so well 
pleased at the poet's manner of celebrating her — 

** When Lesbia first I saw, so heavenly fair. 
With eyes so bright and with that awful air, 
I thought my heart which durst so high aspire 
As bold as his who snatched celestial fire. 



your crime ; and strive as much as can be against it — strive, be sure ; but don't 
be melancholick — don't despair; but never think that I'll grant you anything. 
O Lord, no ; but be sure you lay all thoughts aside of the marriage, for though I 
know you don't love Cynthia, only as a blind for your passion to me — yet it will 
make me jealous. O Lord, what did I say ? Jealous ! No, I can't be jealous ;. 
for I must not love you. Therefore don't hope ; but don't despair neither. They're 
coming ; I musi fly." — T/i^ Double Dealer: Act 2, sc. v. page 156. 

• "There seems to, be a strange affectation in authors of appearing to have 
done everything by chance. The * Old Bachelor ' was written for amusement in the 
languor of convalescence. Yet it is apparently composed with great elaborateness 
of dialogue and incessant ambition of wit" — Johnson ; Lives oft/ie Poets, 



'( 



t 

ii 



i88 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

But soon as e'er the beauteous idiot spoke, 
Forth from her coral lips such folly broke : 
Like balm the trickling nonsense heal'd my wound, 
And what her eyes enthralled, her tongue unbound. 



»t 



Amoret is a cleverer woman than the lovely Lesbia, but the poet 
does not seera to respect one much more than the other ; and 
describes both with exquisite satirical humour — 

** Fair Amoret is gone astray : 

Pursue and seek her every lover. 
1*11 tell the signs by which you may 
The wandering shepherdess discover. 

Coquet and coy at once her air, 

Both studied, though both seem neglected ; 

Careless she is with artful care, 
Affecting to be unaffected. 



With skill her eyes dart every glance, 
' Yet change so soon you 'd ne'er suspect them ; 

' For she'd persuade they wound by chance, 

' Though certain aim and art direct them. 



She likes herself, yet others hates 

For that which in herself she prizes ; 
And, whiie she laughs at them, forgets 

She is the thing which she despises. '* 

What could Amoret have done to bring down such shafts of ridicule 
upon her ? Could she have resisted the irresistible Mr. Congreve ? 
Could anybody? Could Sabina, when she woke and heard such 
a bard singing under her window ? " See," he writes — 

** See ! see, she wakes — Sabina wakes ! 

And now the sun begins to rise? 
Less glorious is the morn, that breaks 

From his bright beams, than her fair eyes. 
With light united, day they give ; 

But different fates ere night fulfil : 
How many by his warmth will live ! 

How many will her coldness kill I " 



CONG RE VE AND ADDISON. 189 

Are you melted ? Don't you think him a divine man ? If not 
touched by the brilliant Sabina, hear the devout Belinda : — 

** Pious Selinda goes to prayers, 

If I but ask her favour ; 
And yet the silly fool's in tears, 

If she believes I'll leave her : 
Would I were free from this restraint. 

Or else had hopes to win her : 
Would she could make of me a saint. 

Or I of her a sinner ! " 

^Vhat a conquering air (here is about these ! What an irresistible 
Mr. Congreve it is ! Sinner ! of course he will be a sinner, the 
delightful rascal ! Win her ! of course he will win her, the victorious 
rogue ! He knows he will : he must — with such a grace, with such a 
fashion, with such a splendid embroidered suit. You see him with 
red-heeled shoes deliciously turned out, passing a fair jewelled hand 
through his dishevelled periwig, and delivering a killing ogle along 
with his scented billet. And Sabina ? What a comparison that is 
between the nymph and the sun ! The sun gives Sabina the/^j", and 
does not venture to rise before her ladysSip : the mom*s bright beams 
are less glorious than her fair eyes : but before night everybody will 
be frozen by her glances : everybody but one lucky rogue who shall 
be nameless. Louis Quatorze in all his glory is hardly more splendid 
than our Phoebus Apollo of the Mall and Spring Gardens.* 

When Voltaire came to visit the great Congreve, the latter rather 
affected to despise his literary reputation, and in this perhaps the 
great Congreve was not far wrong. f A touch of Steele's tenderness is 

• ** Among those by whom it (* Wills's') was frequented, Southerne and Con- 
greve were principally distinguished by Drydcn's friendship. . . . But Congreve 
seems to have gained yet farther than Southerne upon Dryden's friendship. He 
was introduced to him by his first play, the celebrated * Old Bachelor ' being put 
into the poet's hands to be revisetl. Dryden, after making a few alterations to fit it 
for the stage, returned it to the author with the high and just commendation, that 
it was the best first play he had ever seen." — Scott's Drydeti^ vol. i. p. 370. 

\ It was in Surrey Street, Strand (where he afterwards died), that Voltaire 
visited him, in the decline of his life. [The anecdote 




190 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

worth all his finery ; a flash of Swift's lightning, a beam of Addison's 
pure sunshine, and his tawdry playhouse taper is invisible. But the 
ladies loved him, and he was undoubtedly a pretty fellow.* 

The anecdote relating to his saying that he wished **to be visited on no 
other footing than as a gentleman who led a life of plainness and simplicity,** 
is common to all writers on the subject of Congreve, and appears in the English 
version of Voltaire's ** Letters concerning the English Nation,** published in London, 
1733, as also in Goldsmith's ** Memoir of Voltaire." But it is worthy of remark, that 
it docs not appear in the text of the same Letters in the edition of Voltaire's " CEuvres 
Completes" in the "Pantheon Littcraire." Vol. v. of his works. (Paris, 1S37.) 

** Celui de tous les Anglais qui i portc le plus loin la gloire du theatre comique 
est feu M. Congreve. II n'a fait que pcu de pieces, mais toutes sont excellentes dans 
leiir genre. . . . Vous y voyez partout le langage des honnetes gens avec dcs 
actions de fripon ; ce qui prouve qu'il connaissait bien son monde, et qu*il vivait 
dans ce qu'on appelle ki bonne com pagnie." — Voltaire : Lcttres sur les Anglais, 
Let. 19. 

• On the death of Queen Mary he published a Pastoral — **The Mourning 
Muse of Alexis." Alexis and Menalcas sing alternately in the orthodox way. The 
Queen is called Pastora. 

** I mourn Pastora dead, let Albion mourn, 
And sable clouds her chalky cliffs adoni," 

says Alexis. Among other phenomena, we learn that — 

•* With their sharp nails themselves the Satyrs wound. 
And tug their shaggy beards, and bite with grief the ground " — 

(a degree of sensibility not always found in the Satyrs of that period) .... It 
continues — 

** Lord of these woods and wide extended plains, 

Stretch'd on the ground and close to earth his face, 

Scalding with tears the already faded grass, 

4* * * 4* 

To dust must all that Heavenly beauty come ? 
And must Pastora moulder in the tomb ? 
Ah Death ! more fierce and unrelenting far 
Than wildest wolves and savage tigers are ; 
With lambs and sheep their hunger is appeased, 
But ravenous Death the shepherdess has seized." 

This statement that a wolf eats but a sheep, whilst Death eats a shepherdess — 
that figure of the ** Great Shepherd " lying speechless on his stomach, in a state of 
despair which neither winds nor floods nor air can exhibit — are to be remembered 
in poetry surely : and this style was admired in its time by the admirers of the great 
Congreve I [In the 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 191 

We have seen in Swift a humourous philosopher, whose truth 
frightens one, and whose laughter makes one melancholy. We have 
had in Congreve a humourous observer of another school, to whom 

In the ** Tears of Amaryllis for Amyntas " (the young Lord Blandford, the great 
Duke of Marlborough's only son), Amaryllis represents Sarah Duchess ! 

The tigers and wolves, nature and motion, rivers and echoes, come into work 
here again. At the sight of her grief — 

** Tigers and wolves their wonted rage forego, 
And dumb distress and new compassion show, 
Nature herself attentive silence kept. 
And motion seemed suspended while she wept! " 

And Pope dedicated the ** Iliad " to the author of these lines— and Dryden wrote to 
him in his great hand : 

** Time, place, and action may with pains be wrought, 
But Genius must be bom and never can be taught. 
This is your portion, this your native store ; 
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before, 
To Shakspeare gave as much she could not give him more. 

Maintain your Post : that's all the fame you need, 
For 'tis impossible you should proceed ; 
Already I am worn with cares and age, 
And just abandoning th* ungrateful stage : 
Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expence, 
I live a Rent-charge upon Providence : 
But you, whom every Muse and Grace adorn. 
Whom I foresee to better fortune bom. 
Be kind to my remains, and oh \ defend 
Against your Judgment your departed Friend ! 
Let not the insulting Foe my Fame pursue ; 
But shade those Lawrels which descend to You : 
And take for Tribute what these Lines express ; 
You merit more, nor could my Love do less." 

This is a very different manner of welcome to that of our own day. In Shadwell, 
Higgons, Congreve, and the comic authors of their time, when gentlemen meet 
they fall into each other's arms, with ** Jack, Jack, I must buss thee ; " or, •* Fore 
George, Harry, I must kiss thee, lad." And in a similar manner the poets saluted 
their brethren. Literary gentlemen do not kiss now ; I wonder if they love each 
other better ? 

Steele calls Congreve " Great Sir " and ** Great Author ; " says ** Well-dressed 
barbarians knew his awful name," and addresses him as if he were a prince ; and 
speaks of '' Pastora" as one of the most famous tragic compositions. 




192 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

the world seems to have no moral at all, and whose ghastly doctrine 
seems to be that we should eat, drink, and be merry when we can, 
and go to the deuce (if there be a deuce) when the time comes. We 
come now to a humour that flows from quite a different heart and 
spirit — a wit that makes us laugh and leaves us good and happy ; to 
one of the kindest benefactors that society has ever had ; and I believe 
you have divined already that I am about to mention Addison's 
honoured name. 

From reading over his writings, and the biographies which we 
have of him, amongst which the famous article in the Edinburgh 
Review^ may be cited as a magnificent statue of the great writer and 
moralist of the last age, raised by the love and the marvellous skill 
and genius of one of the most illustrious artists of our own ; looking at 
that calm, fair face, and clear countenance — those chiselled features 
pure and cold, I can't but fancy that this great man — in this respect, 
like him of whom we spoke in the last lecture — was also one of the 
lonely ones of the world. Such men have very few equals, and they 
don't herd with those. It is in the nature of such lords of intellect to 
be solitary — they are in the world but not of it; and our minor 
struggles, brawls, successes, pass under them. 

Kind, just, serene, impartial, his fortitude not tried beyond easy 
endurance, his affections not much used, for his books were his 
family, and his society was in public; admirably wiser, wittier, 

• **To Addison himself we are bound by a sentiment as much like affection a«i 
any sentiment can be which is inspired by one who has ]>ecn sleeping a hundrcrl 
and twenty years in Westminster Abbey. . . . After full inquiry and impartial 
reflection we have long been convinced that he deser\'ed as much love and esteem 
as can justly be claimed by any of our infinn and erring race." — Macaulav. 

"Many^who praise virtue do no more than praise it. Vet it is reasonable to 
believe that Addison's profession and practice were at no great variance ; since, 
amidst that storm of faction in which most of his life was passed, though his station 
made him conspicuous, and his activity made him formidable, the character given 
him by his friends was never contradicted by his enemies. Of those with whom 
interest or opinion united him, he had not only the esteem but the kindness ; and 
of others, whom the violence of opposition drove against him, though he might lose 
the love, he retained the reverence." — ^Johnson. 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 193 

calmer, and more instructed than almost every man with whom he 
met, how could Addison suffer, desire, admire, feel much ? I may- 
expect a child to admire me for being taller or writing more cleverly 
than she ; but how can I ask my superior to say that I am a wonder 
-when he knows better than I ? In Addison's days you could 
scarcely show him a literary performance, a sermon, or a poem, or a 
piece of literary criticism, but he felt he could do better. His justice 
must have made him indifferent He didn't praise, because he 
measured his compeers by a higher standard than common people 
Have.* How was he who was so tall to look up to any but the 
loftiest genius? He must have stooped to put himself on a level 
with most men. By that profusion of graciousness and smiles with 
which Goethe or Scott, for instance, greeted almost every literary 
beginner, every small literary adventurer who came to his court and 
went away charmed from the great king's audience, and cuddling to 
his heart the compliment which his literary majesty had paid him— 
each of the two good-natured potentates of letters brought their star 
and riband into discredit. Everybody had his majesty's orders. 
Everybody had his majesty's cheap portrait, on a box surrounded 
with diamonds worth twopence apiece. A very great and just and 
wise man ought not to praise indiscriminately, but give his idea of the 
truth. Addison praises the ingenious Mr. Pinkethman : Addison 
praises the ingenious Mr. Doggett, the actor, whose benefit is coming 
oflf that night : Addison praises Don Saltero : Addison praises 
Milton with all his heart, bends his knee and frankly pays homage to 
that imperial genius, t But between those degrees of his men his 

• ** Addison was perfect good company with intimates, and. had something more 
charming in his conversation than I ever knew in any other man ; but with any 
mixture of strangers, and sometimes only with one, he seemed to preserve his 
dignity much, with a stiff sort of silence." — Pope, Spenc^s Anecdotes, 

t "Milton's chief talent, and indeed his distinguishing excellence, lies in the 
sublimity of his thoughts. There are others of the modems, who rival him in every 
other part of poetry ; but in the greatness of his sentiments he triumphs over all the 
poets, both modem and ancient. Homer alone excepted. It is impossible for the 
imagination of man to disturb itself with greater ideas than those which he 
together in his first, second, and sixth books." — Spectator ^ Na 279. 

I 




194 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

praise is very scanty. I don't think the great Mr. Addison liked 
young Mr. Pope, the Papist, much ; I don't think he abused him. 
But when Mr. Addison's men abused Mr. Pope, I don't think AddK 
son took his pipe out of his mouth to contradict them.^ 

Addison's father was a clergyman of good repute in Wiltshire, and 
rose in the church.t His famous son never lost his clerical training and 
scholastic gravity, and was called " a parson in a tye-wig "J in London 
afterwards at a time when tye-wigs were only worn by the laity, and the 
fathers of theology did not think it decent to appear except in a full 
bottom. Having been at school at Salisbury, and the Charterhouse, in 

** If I were to name a poet that is a perfect master in all these arts of workup 
on the imagination, I think Milton may pass for one." — Ibid» No. 417. 

These famous papers appeared in each Saturday's Spectator^ from Januaiy i^di 
to May 3rd, 1 7 12. Beside his services to Milton, we may place those he did to 
Sacred Music. 

♦ ** Addison was very kind to me at first, but my bitter enemy afterwards."— 
Pope. Spencers Anecdotes, 

** * Leave him as soon as you can,* said Addison to me, speaking of Pope ; * he 
will certainly play you some devilish trick else : he has an appetite to satire.' "— 
Lady Wortley Montagu. Spmcis Anecdotes, 

+ Lancelot Addison, his father, was the son of another Lancelot Addison, a 
clergyman in Westmoreland. He became Dean of Lichfield and Archdeacon of 
Coventry. 

{ **The remark of Mandeville, who, when he had passed an evening in his 
company, declared that he was * a parson in a tye-wig,* can detract little from his 
character. He was always reservetl to strangers, and was not incited to uncommon 
freedom by a character like that of Mandeville." — ^Johnson : Lives of the Poets. 

**01d Jacob Tonson did not like Mr. Addison: he had a quarrel with him, 
and, after his quitting the secretaryship, used frequently to say of him — * One day 
or other you*ll see that man a bishop— I'm sure he looks that way ; and indeed I 
ever thought him a priest in his heart' '* — Pope. Spends Anecdotes, 

'* Mr. Addison stayed above a year at Blois. He would rise as early as between 
two and three in the height of sunmier, and lie abed till between eleven and twelve 
in the depth of winter. He was untalkative whilst here, and often thoughtful : 
sometimes so lost in thought, that I have come into his room and stayed five minutes 
there before he has known anything of it He had his masters generally at supper 
with him ; kept very little company beside ; and had no amour that I know of; 
and I think I should have known it if he had had any.'*— -Abbe Philippeaux op 
Blois. Spends Anecdotes, 



CONG RE VE AND ADDISON. 195 

1687, when he was fifteen years old, he went to Queen's College 
Oxford, where he speedily began to distinguish himself by the making 
of Latin verses. The beautiful and fanciful poem of " The Pigmies and 
the Cranes," is still read by lovers of that sort of exercise ; and verses 
are extant in honour of King William, by which it appears that it was 
the loyal youth's custom to toast that sovereign in bumpers of purple 
Lyseus : many more works are in the Collection, including one on 
the Peace of Ryswick, in 1697, which was so good that Montague 
got him a pension of 300/. a year, on which Addison set out on his 
travels. 

During his ten years at Oxford, Addison had deeply imbued 
himself with the Latin poetical literature, and had these poets at his 
fingers' ends when he travelled in Italy.* His patron went out of 
office, and his pension was unpaid : and hearing that this great 
scholar, now eminent and Jcnown to the literati of Europe (the great 
Boileau,t upon perusal of Mr. Addison's elegant hexameters, was 
first made aware that England was not altogether a barbarous nation) 
— hearing that the celebrated Mr. Addison, of Oxford, proposed to 
travel as governor to a young gentleman on the grand tour, the great 
Duke of Somerset proposed to Mr. Addison to accompany his son, 
Lord Hartford. 

Mr. Addison was delighted to be of use to his Grace, and his 
lordship his Grace's son, and expressed himself ready to set 
forth. 

His Grace the Duke of Somerset now announced to one of the 
most famous scholars of Oxford and Europe that it was his gracious 
intention to allow my Lord Hartford's tutor one hundred guineas per 
annum. Mr. Addison wrote back that his services were his Grace's, 
but he by no means found his account in the recompence for them. 

♦ His knowledge of the Latin poets, from Lucretius and Catullus ddfm to 
Claudian and Prudentius, was singularly exact and profound."— Macaulay. 

t " Our country owes it to him, that the famous Monsieur Boileau first 
ceived an opinion of the English genius for poetry, by perusing the present 
made him of the * Musw Anglicange.' "— TiCKELL : Preface to AddUoti 




196 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

The negotiation was broken off. They parted with a profusion of 
congees on one side and the other. 

Addison remained abroad for some time, living in the best society 
of Europe. How could he do otherwise ? He must have been one 
of the finest gentlemen the world ever saw : at all moments of life 
serene and courteous, cheerful and calm,* He could scarcely ever 
have had a degrading thought. He might have omitted a virtue or 
two, or many, but could not have had many faults committed for 
which he need blush or turn pale. When warmed into confidence, 
his conversation appears to have been so delightful that the greatest 
wits sat rapt and charmed to listen to him. No man bore poverty 
and narrow fortune with a more lofty cheerfulness. His letters to his 
friends at this period of his life, when he had lost his Government 
pension and given up his college chances, are full of courage and a gay 
confidence and philosophy : and they are none the worse in my eyes, 
and I hope not in those of his last and greatest biographer (though 
Mr. Macaulay is bound to own and lament a certain weakness for 
wine, which the great and good Joseph Addison notoriously 
possessed, in common with countless gentlemen of his time), because 
some of the letters are written when his honest hand was shaking a 
little in the morning after libations to purple Lyaeus over-night He 
was fond of drinking the healths of his friends ; he writes to Wyche,t 

♦ ** It was my fate to be much with the wits ; my father was acquainted with all 
of them. Addison was the best company in the world. I never knew anybody 
that had so much wit as Congreve." — Lady Wortley Montagu. Spaict^s 
Anecdotes, 

t " Mr. Addison to Mr. Wyche. 
^* Dear Sir, 

** My hand at present begins to grow steady enough for a letter, so the 
properest use I can put it to is to thank y« honest gentleman that set it a shaking. 
I have had this morning a desperate design in my head to attack you in verse, 
which I should certainly have done could I have found out a rhyme to rummer. 
But though you have escaped for ye present, you are not yet out of danger, if I 
can a little recover my talent at crambo. I am sure, in whatever way I write to 
you, it will be impossible for me to express y* deep sense I have of y* many 
favours you have lately shown me. I shall only tell you that Hambourg has been 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 197 

of Hamburg, gratefully remembering Wyche's "hoc." "I have 
been drinking your health to-day with Sir Richard Shirley/* he writes 
to Bathurst "I have lately had the honour to meet my Lord 
Effingham at Amsterdam, where we have drunk Mr. Wood's health a 
hundred times in excellent champagne," he writes again. Swift* 
describes him over his cups, when Joseph yielded to a temptation 

the pleasantest stage I have met with in my travails. If any of my friends wonder 

at me for living so long in that place, I dare say it will be thought a very good 

excuse when I tell him Mr. Wyche was there. As your company made our stay 

at Hambourg agreeable, your wine has given us all ye satisfaction that we have 

found in our journey through Westphalia. If drinking your health will do you 

any good, you may expect to be as long-lived as Methuselah, or, to use a more 

familiar instance, as yc oldest hoc in ye cellar. I hope ye two pair of legs that was 

left a swelling behind us are by this time come to their shapes again. I can*t 

forbear troubling you with my hearty respects to ye owners of them, and desiring 

you to believe me always, 

"Dear Sir, 

" Yours," &c 

**To Mr. Wyche, His Majesty's Resident at Hambourg, 

"May, 1703." 

— From the Life of AddUon, 4^ Miss AiKIN. Vol i. p. 146. 

* It is pleasing to remember that the relation between Swift and Addison was, 
on the whole, satisfactory from first to last. The value of Swift's testimony, when 
nothing personal inflamed his vision or warped his judgment, can be doubted by 
nobody. 

"Sept. 10, 1 710. — I sat till ten in the evening with Addison and Steele. 

** II. — Mr. Addison and I dined together at his lodgings, and I sat with him 
part of this evening. 

**l8. — To-day I dined with Mr. Stratford at Mr. Addison's retirement near 
Chelsea. .... I will get what good offices I can from Mr. Addison. 

"27. — To-day all our company dined at Will Frankland's, with Steele and 
Addison, too. 

"29. — I dined with Mr. Addison," 8lc, -^Journal to Stella, 

Addison inscribed a presentation copy of his Travels "To Dr. Jonathan Swift, 
the most agreeable companion, the truest friend, and the greatest genius of hi& 
age." — (Scott. From the information of Mr. Theophilus Swift.) 

" Mr. Addison, who goes over first secretary, is a most excellent person ; and 
being my most intimate friend, I shall use all my credit to set him right in his 
notions of persons and things.'* — Letters, 

" I examine my heart, and can find no otlier reason why I write to you now^ 
besides that great love and esteem I have always had for you. . I hswi 




198 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

which Jonathan resisted. Joseph was of a cold nature, and needed 
perhaps the fire of wine to warm his blood. If he was a parson, he 
wore a tye-wig, recollect. A better and more Christian man scarcely 
ever breathed than Joseph Addison. If he had not that little 
weakness for wine — ^why, we could scarcely have found a fault with 
him, and could not have liked him as we do.* 

At thirty-three years of age, this most distinguished wit, scholar, 
and gentleman was without a profession and an income. His book 
of " Travels " had failed : his " Dialogues on Medals " had had no 
particular success : his Latin verses, even though reported the best 
since Virgil, or Statius at any rate, had not brought him a Govern- 
ment place, and Addison was living up two shabby pair of stairs in 
the Haymarket (in a poverty over which old Samuel Johnson rather 
chuckles), when in these shabby rooms an emissary from Government 
and Fortune came and found him.f A poem was wanted about the 
Duke of Marlborougli*s victory of Blenheim. Would Mr. Addison 
write one? Mr. Boyle, afterwards Lord Carleton, took back the 
reply to the Lord Treasurer Godolphin, that Mr. Addison would. 
When the poem had reached a certain stage, it was carried to Godol- 
phin ; and the last lines which he read were these : — 

" But, O my Muse ! what numbers wilt thou find 
To sing the furious troops in battle join'd ? 
Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound 
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound ; 

ask you either for my friend or for myselfc" — Swift to Addison (1717). Scott's 
Swift. VoL xix. p. 274. 

Political differences only dulled for a while their friendly commimications. 
Time renewed them : and Tickell enjoyed Swift's friendship as a legacy from the 
man with whose memory his is so honourably connected. 

♦ "Addison usually studied all the morning ; then met his party at Button's ; 
dined there, and stayed five or six hours, and sometimes far into the night. I was 
of the company for about a year, but found it too much for me : it hurt my health, 
and so I quitted it" — Pope. Spent/ s Anecdotes. 

t "When he returned to England (in 1702), with a meanness of appearance 
which gave testimony of the difficulties to which he had been reduced, he found 
his old patrons out of power, and was, therefore, for a time, at full leisure for the 
cultivation of his mind." — ^Johnson : Lh'es of the Poets. 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 199 

The dreadM burst of cannon rend the skies, 

And all the thunders of the battle rise. 

'Twas then great Marlborough's mighty soul was proved. 

That, in the shock of charging hosts unmoved. 

Amidst confusion, horror, and despair. 

Examined all the dreadful scenes of war : 

In peacefid thought the field of death surveyed, 

To fainting squadrons lent the timely aid. 

Inspired repulsed battalions to engage, 

And taught the doubtful battle where to rage. 

So when an angel, by divine command. 

With rising tempests shakes a guilty land 

(Such as of late o'er pale Britannia passed). 

Calm and serene he drives the furious blast ; 

And, pleased the Almighty's orders to perform. 

Rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm." 

Addison left off at a good moment That simile was pronounced 
to be of the greatest ever produced in poetry. That angel, that 
good angel, flew off with Mr. Addison, and landed him in the place 
of Commissioner of Appeals — vice Mr. Locke providentially pro- 
moted. In the following year Mr. Addison went to Hanover with 
Lord Halifax, and the year after was made Under Secretary of State. 
O angel visits ! you come " few and far between " to literary gentle- 
men's lodgings ! Your wings seldom quiver at second-floor windows 
now I 

You laugh ? You think it is in the power of few writers now-a- 
days to call up such an angel ? Well, perhaps not ; but permit us to 
comfort ourselves by pointing out that there are in the poem of the 
*' Campaign " some as bad lines as heart can desire : and to hint that 
Mr. Addison did very wisely in not going further with my Lord 
Godolphin than that angelical simile. Do allow me, just for a little 
harmless mischief, to read you some of the lines which follow. Here 
is the interview between the Duke and the King of the Romans after 
the battle : — 

" Austria's young monarch, whose imperial sway 
Sceptres and thrones are destined to obey, 
Whose boasted ancestry so high extends 
That in the Pagan Gods his lineage ends, 



200 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS, 

Comes iinotn afar, in gratitude to own 
The great si^pporter of his fetherVthronep: 
V ; ^ ^ Wha^t tides of glory to his bosom ran 

Clasped in th' embraces of the godlike man ! 
How were his eyes with pleasing wonder fixt, 
To see such fire with so much sweetness mixt ! 
Such easy, greatness, such a graceful port. 
So learned and finished for the camp or court ! ^ 

How many fourth-form boys at Mr. Addison's school of Charter- 
house could write as well as that now ? The " Campaign " has 
blunders, triumphant as it was ; and weak points like all campaigns.* 

In the year 1718 " Cato "came out Swift has left a description 
of the first night of the performance. All the laurels of Europe were 
scarcely sufficient. for the author. of this prodigious poem.f Lauda- 

* ''Mtv Addison wrote very fluently; but he was sometimes very slow, and 
scrupulous in correcting. He would show his verses to several friends; and. would 
alter almost everything that any of them hinted at as wrong. He seemed to be 
too diffident of himself; and too nuich concerned about his character as a poet ; oi* 
(as he worded it) too solicitous for that kind of praise which, God knows, is but 
a very lillk matter after all ! V-^PoP£« Spenc^s Anecdotes. ,».... 

t ''As to poetical affairs,'' says Pope, in 1713, ''I am content at present to be 
a bare looker-on« .... Cato was not so much the wonder of Rome in hb days, 
as he is of Britain in ours ; and though all the foolish industry possible has been 
used to make it thought a party play, yet what the author once Said of another 
may the mo^ properly in the world be applied to him on this occasion : 
" * Envy itself is dumb — in wonder lost ; 

And factions strive who shall applaud him most' 

** The numerous and violent claps of the Whig party on the one side of the 
theatre were echoed back by the Tories on the other; while the author sweated 
behind .the scenes with concern to . find their applause proceeding more from the 

hands than the head I belie«^ou have heard that, after all the applauses 

of the opposite faction, my Lord Bo^Kbroke sent for Booth, who played Cato^ 
into the btox, and presented him wi&fifty guineas in acknowledgment (as he 
expressed it) for defending the cause of flberty so well against a perpetual dictator.** 
—Pope's Letter to Sir W. Trumbull. 

** Cato " ran for thirty- five nights without interruption. Pope wrote the Pro- 
logue, and Garth the Epilogue. 

It is worth noticing how many things in " Cato " keep their ground as habitual 
quotations, e,g, : — 

**. . . big with the fate 

Of Cato and of Rome. " [»Tis 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. aoi 

tions of Whig and Tory chiefs, popalar ovations, complimentary 
garlands from literary men, translations in all languages, delight and 
homage from all — save from John Dennis in a minority of one. 
Mr. Addison was called the '^ great Mr. Addison " after this. The 
Cofifese-house Senate saluted him Divus : it was heresy to question 
that decree. 

Meanwhile he was writing political papers and advancing in 
the political profession. He went Secretary to Ireland. He was 
appointed Secretary of State in 17 17. And letters of his are extant, 
bearing date some year or two before, and written to young Lord 
Warwick, in which he addresses him as " my dearest lord,*' and asks 
affectionately about his studies, and writes very prettily about 
nightingales and birds'-nests, which he has found at Fulham for his 
lordship. Those nightingales were intended to warble in the ear of 
Lord Warwick's mamma. Addison married her ladyship in 17 16; 
and died at Holland House three years after that splendid but 
dismal union.'i^ 

'' *Tis not in mortals to command success, 
But we*Il do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it" 

" Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury." 

» 

'' I think the Romans call it Stoicism." 

" My voice is still for war." 

" When vice prevaik. and impious men bear sway. 
The post of honour is a private station." 

Not to mention — 

** The woman who deliberates is lost." 

And the eternal — 

" Plato, thou reasonest well," 

which avenges, perhaps, on the public their n^lect of the play I 

* " The lady was persuaded to marry him on terms much like those on which a 
Turkish princess is espoused — to whom the Sultan is reported to pronounce, 
* Daughter, I give thee this man for thy slave.* The marriage, if uncontradicted 
report can be credited, made no addition to his happiness ; it neither found them, 

nor made them, equal Rowe's ballad of ' The Despairing Shepherd * is 

said to have been written, either before or after marriage, upon this memorable 
pair."— Dr. Johnson. [" I received 



202 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS. 

But it is not for his reputation as the great author of " Cato " and 
the " Campaign," or for his merits as Secretary of State, or for his 
rank and high distinction as my Lady Warwick's husband, or for 
his eminence as an Examiner of political questions on the Whig side, 
or a Guardian of British liberties, that we admire Joseph Addison. 
It is as a Tatler of small talk and a Spectator of mankind, that we 
cherish and love him, and owe as much pleasure to him as to any 
human being that ever wrote. He came in that artificial age, and 
began to speak with his noble, natural voice. He came, the gentle 
satirist, who hit no unfair blow ; the kind judge who castigated only 
in smiling. While Swift went about, hangmg and ruthless— a literary 
Jeffreys — ^in Addison's kind court only minor cases were tried : only 
peccadilloes and small sins against society : only a dangerous liber- 

" I received the news of Mr. Addison's being declared Secretary of State with 
the less surprise, in that I knew that post was almost offered to him before. At 
that time he declined it, and I really believe that he would have done well to have 
declined it now. Such a post as that, and such a wife as the Countess, do not 
seem to be, in prudence, eligible for a man that is asthmatic, and we may see the 
day when he will be heartily glad to resign them both." — Lady Wortley 
Montagu to Pope : Works, Li>rd Whamcliffis edit, vol. iL p. iii. 

The issue of this marriage was a daughter, Charlotte Addison, who inherited, 
on her mother's death, the estate of Bilton, near Rugby, which her father had 
purchased. She was of weak intellect, and died, unmarried, at an advanced age. 

Rowe appears to have been faithful to Addison during his courtship, for his 
Collection contains ** Stanzas to Lady Warwick, on Mr. Addison's going to Ire- 
land," in which her ladyship is called " Chloe," and Joseph Addison " Lycidas;" 
besides the ballad mentioned by the Doctor, and which is entitled " Colin's Com- 
plaint" But not even the interest attached to the name of Addison could induce 
the reader to peruse this composition, though one stanza may serve as a 
specimen : — 

" What though I have skill to complain- 
Though the Muses my temples have crowned ; 
What though, when they hear my sweet strain, 
The Muses sit weeping around. 

** Ah, Colin 1 thy hopes are in vain ; 
Thy pipe and thy laurel resign ; 
Thy false one inclines to a swain 
W^hose music is sweeter than thine." 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 203 

tinism in tuckers and hoops ; • or a nuisance in the abuse of beaux' 
canes and snuff-boxes. It may be a lady is tried for breaking the peace 
of our sovereign lady Queen Anne, and ogling too dangerously from the 
side-box ; or a Templar for beating the watch, or breaking Priscian's 

♦ One of the most humourous of these is the paper on Hoops, which, the 
Spectator tells us, particularly pleased his friend Sir Roger : 

**Mr. Spectator, — 

" You have diverted the town almost a whole month at the expense of the 
country; it is now high time that you should give the country their revenge. Since 
your withdrawing from this place, the fair sex are run into great extravagances. 
Their petticoats, which began to heave and swell before you left us, are now blown 
up into a most enormous concave, and rise every day more and more ; in short, sir, 
since our women knew themselves to be out of the eye of the Spectator, they 
will be kept within no compass. You praised them a little too soon, for the 
modesty of their head-dresses ; for as the humour of a sick person is often driven 
out of one limb into another, their superfluity of ornaments, instead of being 
entirely banished, seems only fallen from their heads upon their lower parts. 
What they have lost in height they make up in breadth, and, contrary to all rules 
of architecture, widen the foundations at the same time that they shorten the 
superstructure. 

**The women give out, in defence of these wide bottoms, that they are very 
airy and very proper for the season ; but this I look upon to be only a pretence 
and a piece of art, for it is well known we have not had a more moderate summer 
these many years, so that it is certain the heat they complain of cannot be in the 
weather ; besides, I would fain ask these tender-constitutioned ladies, why they 
should require more cooling than their mothers before them ? 

** I fmd several speculative persons are of opinion that our sex has of late 
years been very saucy, and that the hoop-petticoat is made use of to keep us at a 
distance. It is most certain that a woman's honour cannot be better entrenched 
than after this manner, in circle within circle, amidst such a variety of outworks 
and lines of circumvallation. A female who is thus invested in whalebone is 
sufficiently secured against the approaches of an ill-bred fellow, who might as well 
tliink of Sir George Elheridge's way of making love in a tub as in the midst of so 
many hoops, 

** Among these various conjectures, there arc men of superstitious tempers who 
look upon the hoop-petticoat as a kind of prodig)'. Some will have it that it por- 
tends the downfall of the French king, and observe, that the farthingale appeared 
in England a little before the ruin of the Spanish monarchy. Others are of 
opinion that it foretells battle and bloodshed, and believe it of the same prognosti- 
■cation as the tail of a blazing star. For my part, I am apt to think that it is a 
sign that multitudes are coming into the world rather than going out of it," &c. &c. 
— Spectator J No. 127. 



204 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

head : or a citizen's wife for caring too much for the puppet-show, and 
too Uttle for her husband and children : every one of the little sinners 
brought before him is amusing, and he dismisses each with the 
pleasantest penalties and the most charming words of admonition. 

Addison wrote his papers as gaily as if he was going out for a 
hoKday. When Steele's " Tatler " first began his prattle, Addison^ 
then in Ireland, caught at his friend's notion, poured in paper after 
paper, and contributed the stores of his mind, the sweet fruits of his 
reading, the delightful gleanings of his daily observation, with a 
wonderful profusion, and as it seemed an almost endless fecundity. 
He was six-and-thirty years old : full and ripe. He had not worked 
crop after crop from his brain, manuring hastily, Subsoiling indifferently, 
cutting and sowing and cutting"again, like other luckless cultivators 
of letters. He had not done] much as yet ; a few Latin poems — 
graceful prolusions j a polite book of travels ; a dissertation on 
medals, not very deep ; four acts of a tragedy, a great classical 
exercise ; and the " Campaign," a large prize poem that w^on an 
enormous prize. But with his friend's discovery of the "Tatler," 
Addison's calling was found, and the most delightful talker in the 
world began to speak. He does not go very deep : let gentlemen of 
a profound genius, critics accustomed to the plunge of the bathos, 
console themselves by thinking that he couldtit go very deep. There 
are no traces of suffering in his writing. He was so good, so honest, 
so healthy, so cheerfully selfish, if I must use the word. There is no 
deep sentiment I doubt, until after his marriage, perhaps, whether 
he ever lost his night's rest or his day's tranquillity about any woman 
in his life ; * whereas poor Dick Steele had capacity enough to melt, 
and to languish, and to sigh, and to cry his honest old eyes out, for 
a dozen. His writings do not show insight into or reverence for the 
love of women, which I take to be, one the consequence of the other. 
He walks about the world watching their pretty humours, fashions, 

♦ ** Mr. Addison has not had one epithalamium that I can hear of, and must 
even be reduced, like a poorer and a better poet, Spenser, to make his own."— 
Pope's LetUrs, 



CO NCR EVE AND ADDISON. 205 

follies, flirtations, rivalries ; and noting them ^\'itll the most charming 
archness. He sees them in public, in the theatre, or the assembly, 
or the puppet-show ; or at the toy-shop higgling for gloves and lace ; or 
at the auction, battling together over a blue porcelain dragon, or a 
darling monster in Japan ; or at church, eyeing the width of their 
rival's hoops, or the breadth of their laces, as they sweep down the 
aisles. Or he looks out of his window at the " Garter " in St. James's 
Street, at Ardelia's coach, as she blazes to the drawing-room with her 
coronet and six footmen; and remembering that her father was a 
Turkey merchant in the city, calculates how many sponges went to 
purchase her earring, and how many drums of figs to build her coach- 
box ; or he demurely watches behind a tree in Spring Garden as 
Saccharissa (whom he knows under her mask) trips out of her chair 
to the alley where Sir Fopling is waiting. He sees only the public 
life of women. Addison was one of the most resolute club-men of 
his day. He passed many hours daily in those haunts. Besides 
drinking — which alas ! is past praying for — you must know it, he 
owned, too, ladies, that he indulged in that odious practice of 
smoking. Poor fellow ! He was a man's man, remember. The 
only woman he did know, he didn't write about. I take it there 
would not have been much humour in that story. 

He likes to go and sit in the smoking-room at the " Grecian," or 
the " Devil j" to pace 'Change and the Mall* — to mingle in that 

* " I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure till he 
Jcnows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or a choleric 
disposition, married or a bachelor ; with other particulars of a like nature, that 
conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this 
•curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next as pre- 
fatory discourses to my following writings ; and shall give some account in them 
of the persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, 
digesting, and correcting will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open 

the work with my own history There runs a story in the family, that 

when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamt that 
she was brought to bed of a judge. Whether this might proceed from a lawsuit 
which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, 
I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that 



2o6 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

great club of the world — sitting alone in it somehow : having good- 
will and kindness for every single man and woman in it — ^having 
need of some habit and custom binding him to some few ; never 
doing any man a wrong (unless it be a TVTong to hint a little doubt 

I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the 
neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appear- 
ance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mothers 
dream ; for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two 
months old, and would not make use of my coral till they had taken away the 
bells from it. 

" As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall 
pass it over in silence. I find that during my nonage I had the reputation of a 
very sullen youth, but was always the favourite of my schoolmaster, who used to 
say that viy parts lu^c solid and 7uonld wear ivelL I had not been long at the 
university before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence ; for during the 
space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the collie, I scarce 
uttered the quantity of an hundred words ; and, indeed, I do not remember that 
I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole life 

** I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen 
in most public places, though there are not more than half-a-dozen of wj select 

friends that know me. There is no place of general resort wherein I do 

not often make my appearance ; sometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a 
round of politicians at * Will's,* and listening with great attention to the narratives 
that are made in these little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at 
'Child's,' and whilst I seem attentive to nothing but the Postman^ overhear 
the conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Tuesday night at 
* St. James's Coffee-house;' and sometimes join the little committee of poUtics in 
the inner room, as one who comes to hear and improve. My face is likewise very 
well known at the * Grecian,' the * Cocoa-tree,' and in the theatres both of 
Drury Lane and the Haymarket. I have been taken for a merchant upon the 
Exchange for above these two years; and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly 
of stock-jobbers at 'Jonathan's.' In short, wherever I see a cluster of people, 
I mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club. 

** Thus I live in the world rather as a *• Spectator^ of mankind than as one of 
the species ; by which means I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, 
merchant, and artizan, without ever meddling in any practical part in life. I am 
very well versed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can discern the errors 
in the economy, business, and diversions of others, better than those who are 
engaged in them — as standers-by discover blots which are apt to escape those who 

are in the game In short, I have acted, in all the parts of my life, 

as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve in this paper."— 
Spectator^ No. I. 



CONG RE VE AND ADDISON. zorj 

about a man's parts, and to damn him with faint praise) ; and so he 
looks on the world and plays with the ceaseless humours of all of us 
— ^laughs the kindest laugh — ^points our neighbour's foible or eccen- 
tricity out to us with the most good-natured, smiling confidence ; and 
then, turning over his shoulder, whispers our foibles to our neighbour. 
What would Sir Roger de Coverley be without his follies and his 
charming little brain-cracks ? * If the good knight did not call out 
to the people sleeping in church, and say "Amen** with such a 
•delightful pomposity : if he did not make a speech in the assize-court 
dpropos de boiies^ and merely to show his dignity to Mr. Spectator : t 
if he did not mistake Madam Doll Tearsheet for a lady of quality in 
Temple Garden: if he. were wiser than he is: if he had not his 
humour to salt his life, and were but a mere English gentleman and 
game-preserver — of what worth were he to us ?. We love him for his 
vanities as much as his virtues. What is ridiculous is delightful in 
him ; we are so fond of him because we laugh at him so. And out 
of that laughter, and out of that sweet weakness, and out of those 

• "So effectually, indeed, did he retort on vice the mockery which had 
recently been directed against virtue, that, since his time, the open violation of 
decency has always been considered, amongst us, the sure mark of a fool." — 
Macaulay. 

t "The Court was sat before Sir Roger came; but, notwithstanding all the 
justices had taken their places upon the bench, they made room for the old knight 
at the head of them; who for his reputation in the country took occasion to 
whisper in the judge's ear that he was glad his lordship had met with so much good 
weather in his circuit. I was listening to the proceedings of the Court with much 
attention, and infinitely pleased with that great appearance and solemnity which so 
properly accompanies such a public administration of our laws ; when, after about 
an hour's sitting, I observed, to my great surprise, in the midst of a trial, that my 
friend Sir Roger was getting up to speak. I was in some pain for him, till I found 
he had acquitted himself of two or three sentences, with a look of much business 
and great intrepidity. 

** Upon his first rising, the Court was hushed, and a general whisper ran 
among the country people that Sir Roger was up. The speech he made was so 
little to the purpose, that I shall not trouble my readers with an account of it, and 
I believe was not so much designed by the knight himself to inform the Court, as 
to give him a figure in my eyes, and to keep up his credit in the country."— 
Spectator, No. 122. 



2o8 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

harmless eccentricities and follies, and out of that touched brain, and 
out of that honest manhood and simplicity — we get a result of 
happiness, goodness, tenderness, pity, piety ; such as, if my audience 
will think their reading and hearing over, doctors and divines but 
seldom have the fortune to inspire. And why not ? Is the glory of 
Heaven to be sung only by gentlemen in black coats ? Must the 
truth be only expounded in gown and surplice, and out of those two 
vestments can nobody preach it ? Commend me to this dear 
preacher without orders— this parson in the tye-wig. When this man 
looks from the world, whose weaknesses he describes so benevolently, 
up to the Heaven which shines over us all, I can hardly fancy a 
human face lighted up with a more serene rapture : .a human 
intellect thrilling with a purer love and adoration than Joseph 
Addison's. Listen to him : from your childhood you have known the 
verses : but who can hear their sacred music without love and awe ? — 

" Soon as the evening shades prevail, 
The moon takes up the wondrous tale, 
And nightly to the listening earth 
Repeats the story of her birth ; 
And all the stars that round her bum, 
And all the planets in their turn. 
Confirm the tidings as they roll. 
And spread the truth from pole to pole. 
What though, in solemn silence, all 
Move round this dark terrestrial ball ; 
What though no real voice nor sound 
Among their radiant orbs be found ; 
In reason's ear they all rejoice, 
And utter forth a glorious voice. 
For ever singing as they shine. 
The hand that made us is divine." 

It seems to me those verses shine like the stars. They shine 
out of a great deep calm. When he turns to Heaven, a Sabbath 
comes over that man's mind : and his face lights up from it with a 
glory of thanks and prayer. His sense of religion stirs through his 
whole being. In the fields, in the to>\Ti : looking at the birds in the 
trees : at the children in the streets : in the morning or in the moon- 



CONG RE VE AND ADDISON. 209 

light : over his books in his own room : in a happy party at a country 
nieny-making or a town assembly, good-will and peace to God's 
creatures, and love and awe of Him who made them, fill his pure 
heart and shine from his kind face. If Swift's life was the most 
wretched, I think Addison's was one of the most enviable. A life 
prosperous and beautiful — a calm death — an immense fame and 
affection afterwards for his happy and spotless name.* 

• ** Garth sent to Addison (of whom he had a very high opinion) on his death- 
bed, to ask him whether the Christian religion was true." — Dr. Young. Spmce's 
Anecdotes, 

** I have alwajrs preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The latter I consider as an 
act, the former as an habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient, cheerfulness 
fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest transports of mirth 
who are subject to the greatest depression of melancholy : on tlie contrary, cheer- 
fulness, though it does not give the mind such an exquisite gladness, prevents us 
from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a flash of lightning that 
breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment ; cheerfulness keeps 
up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.'' 
— Addison : Spectator ^ p. 381. 



14 



2IO ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 



STEELE. 

WHAT do we look for in studying the histor>' of a past age ? Is 
it to leam the political transactions and characters of the 
reading public men ? is it to make ourselves acquainted with the life 
and being of the time ? If we set out with the former grave purpose, 
where is the truth, and who believes that he has it entire ? What cha- 
racter of what great man is known to you ? You can but make guesses 
as to character more or less happy. In common life don't you often 
judge and misjudge a man's whole conduct, setting out from a wrong 
impression ? The tone of a voice, a word said in joke, or a trifle in 
behaviour — the cut of his hair or the tie of his neckcloth may disfigure 
him in your eyes, or poison your good opinion ; or at the end of 
years of intimacy it may be your closest friend says something, reveals 
something which had previously been a secret, which alters all your 
views about him, and shows that he has been acting on quite a different 
motive to that which you fancied you knew. And if it is so with 
those you know, how much more with those you don't know ? Say, 
for example, that I want to understand the character of the Duke of 
Marlborough. I read Swift's history of the times in which he took a 
part ; the shrewdest of observers and initiated, one would think, into 
the politics of the age — ^he hints to me that Marlborough was a 
coward, and even of doubtful military capacity : he speaks of Walpole 
as a contemptible boor, and scarcely mentions, except to flout it, the 
great intrigue of the Queen's latter days, which was to have ended in 
bringing back the Pretender. Again, I read Marlborough's life by a 
copious archdeacon, who has the command of immense papers, of 
sonorous language, of what is called the best information ; and I get 
little or no insight into this secret motive which, I believe, influenced 



A 



STEELE, 2X1 

the whole of Marlborough's career, which caused his turnings and 
windings, his opportune fidelity and treason, stopped his army almost 
at Paris gate, and landed him finally on the Hanoverian side — ^the 
winning side : I get, I say, no truth, or only a portion of it, in 
the narrative of either writer, and believe that Coxe's portrait, or 
Swift's portrait, is quite unlike the real Churchill. I take this as a 
single instance, prepared to be as sceptical about any other, and say 
to the Muse of History, " O venerable daughter of Mnemosyne, I 
doubt every single statement you ever made since your ladyship was 
a Muse ! For all your grave airs and high pretensions, you are not 
a whit more trustworthy than some of your lighter sisters on whom 
your partisans look down. You bid me listen to a general's oration 
to his soldiers : Nonsense ! He no more made it than Turpin made 
his dying speech at Newgate. You pronounce a panegyric of a hero : 
I doubt it, and say you flatter outrageously. You utter the con- 
demnation of a loose character: I doubt it, and think you arc 
prejudiced and take the side of the Dons. You offer me an autobio- 
graphy : I doubt all autobiographies I ever read ; except those, 
perhaps, of Mr. Robinson Crusoe, Mariner, and writers of his class. 
These have no object in setting themselves right with the public or 
their own consciences ; these have no motive for concealment or half- 
truths ; these call for no more confidence than I can cheerfully give, 
and do not force me to tax my credulity or to fortify it by evidence. 
I take up a volume of Dr. Smollett, or a volume of the Spectator^ and 
say the fiction carries a greater amount of truth in solution than the 
volume which purports to be all true. Out of the fictitious book I 
get the expression of the life of the time ; of the manners, of the 
movement, the dress, the pleasures, the laughter, the ridicules of 
society — the old times live again, and I travel in the old country of 
England. Can the heaviest historian do more for me ? " 

As we read in these delightfiil volumes of the Toiler and 
Spectator the past age returns, the England of our ancestors is 
revivified. The Maypole rises in the Strand again in London ; the 
churches are thronged with daily worshippers ; the beaux are gather- 



212 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

ing in the coffee-houses ; the gentry are going to the Drawing-room ; 
the ladies are thronging to the toy-shops ; the chairmen are jostling inr 
the streets ; the footmen are running with links before the chariots, or 
fighting round the theatre doors. In the country I see the young 
Squire riding to Eton with his servants behind him, and Will Wimble, 
the friend of the family, to see him safe. To make that journey 
from the Squire's and back. Will is a week on horseback. The coach 
takes five days between London and Bath. The judges and the bar 
ride the circuit. If my lady comes to town in her post-chariot, her 
people carry pistols to fire a salute on Captain Macheath if he should 
appear, and her couriers ride ahead to prepare apartments for her at 
the great caravanserais on the road ; Boniface receives her under the 
creaking sign of the " Bell " or the " Ram," and he and his chamber- 
lains bow her up the great stair to the state-apartments, whilst her 
carriage rumbles into the court-yard, where the " Exeter Fly" is housed 
that performs the journey in eight days, God willing, having achieved 
its daily flight of twenty miles, and landed its passengers for supper 
and sleep. The curate is taking his pipe in the kitchen, where the 
Captain's man — having hung up his master's half pike — is at his 
bacon and eggs, bragging of Ramillies and Malplaquet to the town's- 
folk, who have their club in the chimney-comer. The Captain is 
ogling the chambermaid in the wooden gallery, or bribing her to 
know who is the pretty young mistress that has come in the coach. 
The pack-horses are in the great stable, and the drivers and ostlers 
carousing in the tap. And in Mrs. Landlady's bar, over a glass of 
strong waters, sits a gentleman of military appearance, who travels 
with pistols, as all the rest of the world does, and has a rattling grey 
mare in the stables which will be saddled and away with its owner 
half an hour before the " Fly " sets out on its last day's flight And 
some five miles on the road, as the " Exeter Fly " comes jingling and 
creaking onwards, it will suddenly be brought to a halt by a gentle- 
man on a grey mare, with a black vizard on his face, who thrusts a 
long pistol into the coach window, and bids the company to hand out 
their purses, ... It must have been no small pleasure even to 



STEELE. 213 

sit in the great kitchen in those days, and see the tide of humankind 
pass by. We arrive at places now, but we travel no more. Addison 
talks jocularly of a difference of manner and costume being quite 
perceivable at Staines, where there passed a young fellow " with a very 
tolerable periwig," though, to be sure, his hat was out of fashion, and 
had a Ramillies cock. I would have liked to travel in those days 
(being of that class of travellers who are proverbially pretty easy 
4:oram latronibus) and have seen my friend with the grey mare and the 
black vizard. Alas ! there always came a day in the life of that 
warrior when it was the fashion to accompany him as he passed — 
without his black mask, and with a nosegay in his hand, accompanied 
by halberdiers and attended by the sheriff, — in a carriage without 
springs, and a clergyman jolting beside 'him, to a spot close by 
Cumberland Gate and the Marble Arch, where a stone still records 
that here Tyburn turnpike stood. What a change in a century ; in a 
few years ! Within a few yards of that gate the fields began : the 
fields of his exploits,* behind the hedges of which he lurked and 
robbed. A great and wealthy city has gro^vn over those meadows. 
Were a man brought to die there now, the windows would be 
-closed and the inhabitants keep their houses in sickening horror. 
A hundred years back, people crowded to see that last act of a 
highwayman's life, and make jokes on it. Swift laughed at him, 
^mly advising him to provide a Holland shirt and white cap 
crowned with a crimson or black ribbon for his exit, to mount the 
cart cheerfully — shake hands with the hangman, and so — farewell. 
Gay wrote the most delightful ballads, and made merry over the same 
hero. Contrast these with the writings of our present humourists ! 
Compare those morals and ours — those manners and ours ! 

We can't tell — ^you would not bear to be told the whole truth 
regarding those men and manners. You could no more suffer in a 
British drawing-room, under the reign of Queen Victoria, a fine 
gentleman or fine lady of Queen Anne's time, or hear what they 
heard and said, than you would receive an ancient Briton. It is as 
lone reads about savages, that one contemplates the wild ways, the 



214 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

barbarous feasts, the terrific pastimes, of the men of pleasure of that 
age. We have our fine gentlemen, and our " fast men ; " permit me 
to give you an idea of one particularly fast nobleman of Queen 
Anne's days, whose biography has been preserved to us by the law 
reporters. 

In 1 69 1, when Steele was a boy at school, my Lord Mohun was 
tried by his peers for the murder of William Mountford, comedian. 
In " Howeirs State Trials," the reader will find not only an edifying 
account of this exceedingly fast nobleman, but of the times and 
manners of those days. My lord's friend, a Captain Hill, smitten 
with the charms of the beautiful Mrs. Bracegirdle, and anxious to 
marry her at all hazards, determined to carry her off, and for this 
purpose hired a hackney-coach with six horses, and a half-dozen of 
soldiers, to aid him in the storm. The coach with a pair of horses 
(the four leaders being in waiting elsewhere) took its station opposite 
my Lord Craven's house in Drury I.,ane, by which door Mrs. Brace- 
girdle was to pass on her way from the theatre. As she passed in 
company of her mamma and a friend, Mr. Page, the Captain seized 
her by the hand, the soldiers hustled Mr. Page and attacked him 
sword in hand, and Captain Hill and his noble friend endeavoured to 
force Madam Bracegirdle into the coach. Mr. Page called for help : 
the population of Drury Lane rose : it was impossible to eflfect the 
capture ; and bidding the soldiers go about their business, and the 
coach to drive ofi". Hill let go of his prey sulkily, and waited for 
other opportunities of revenge. The man of whom he was most 
jealous was Will Mountford, the comedian ; Will removed, he thought 
Mrs. Bracegirdle might be his : and accordingly the Captain and his 
lordship lay that night in wait for Will, and as he was coming out 
of a house in Norfolk Street, while Mohun engaged him in talk, Hill> 
in the words of the Attorney-General, made a pass and ran him clean 
through the body. 

Sixty-one of my lord's peers finding him not guilty of murder,. 
while but fourteen found him guilty, this very fast nobleman was 
discharged : and made his appearance seven years after in another 



STEELE, 215 

trial for murder — when he, my Lord Warwick, and three gentlemen 
of the military profession, were concerned in the fight which ended in 
the death of Captain Coote. 

This jolly company were drinking together at " Lockit's " in 
Charing Cross, when angry words arose between Captain Coote and 
Captain French ; whom my Lord Mohun and my Lord the Earl of 
Warwick * and Holland endeavoured to pacify. My Lord Warwick 
was a dear friend of Captain Coote, lent him a hundred pounds to 
buy his commission in the Guards; once when the captain was 
arrested for 13/. by his tailor, my lord lent him five guineas, often 
paid his reckoning for him, and showed him other offices of fiiend- 
ship. On this evening the disputants, French and Coote, being 
separated whilst they were upstairs, unluckily stopped to drink ale 
again at the bar of " Lockit's." The row began afresh — Cbote 
lunged at French over the bar, and at last all six called for chairs, 
and went to Leicester Fields, where they fell to. Their lordships 
engaged on the side of Captain Coote. My Lord of Warwick was 
severely wounded in the hand, Mr. French also was stabbed, but 
honest Captain Coote got a couple of wound s-^one especially, 
" a wound in the left side just under the short ribs, and piercing 
through the diaphragma," which did for Captain Coote. Hence the 
trials of my Lords Wanvick and Mohun : hence the assemblage of 

* The husband of the Lady Warwick who married Addison, and the father 
of the young Earl, who was brought to his stepfather's bed to see "how a 
Christian could die." He was amongst the wildest of tlie nobility of that day; 
and in the curious collection of Chap- Books at the British Museum, I have seen 
more than one anecdote of the freaks of the gay lord. He was popular in 
London, as such daring spirits have been in our time. The anecdotists speak 
very kindly of his practical jokes. Mohun was scarcely out of prison for his 
second homicide, when he went on Lord Macclesfield's embassy to the Elector of 
'Hanover, when Queen Anne sent the garter to H. E. Highness. The chronicler 
of the expedition speaks of his lordship as an amiable young man, who had been 
in bad company, but was quite repentant and reformed. He and Macartney 
afterwards murdered the Duke of Hamilton between them, in which act Lord 
Moliun died. This amiable baron's name was Charles, and not Henry, as a 
recent novelist has christened him. 



2i6 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

peers, the report of the transaction, in which these defunct fast men 
still live for the observation of the curious. My Lord of Warwick is 
brought to the bar by the Deputy Governor of the Tower of London, 
having the axe carried before him by the gentleman gaoler, who 
stood with it at the bar at the right hand of the prisoner, turning the 
edge from him ; the prisoner, at his approach, making three bows, 
one to his Grace the Lord High Steward, the other to the peers on 
each hand; and his Grace and the peers return the salute. And 
besides these great personages, august in periwigs, and nodding to 
the right and left, a host of the small come up out of the past and 
pass before us — the jolly captains brawling in the tavern, and laughing 
and cursing over their cups — the drawer that serves, the bar-girl that 
waits, the bailiff on the prowl, the chairmen trudging through the 
black lampless streets, and smoking their pipes by the railings, whilst 
swords are clashing in the garden within. " Help there ! a gentle- 
man is hurt ! " The chairmen put up their pipes, and help the 
gentleman over the railings, and carry him, ghastly and bleeding, to 
the Bagnio in Long Acre, where they knock up the surgeon — a pretty 
tall gentleman : but that wound under the short ribs has done for 
him. Surgeon, lords, captains, bailiffs, chairmen, and gentleman 
gaoler with your axe, where be you now ? The gentleman axeman's 
head is off his own shoulders ; the lords and judges can wag theirs 
no longer ; the bailiff's writs have ceased to run ; the honest chair- 
men's pipes are put out, and with their brawny calves they have 
walked away into Hades — all as irrecoverably done for as Will 
Mountford or Captain Cootc. The subject of our night's lecture saw 
all these people — rode in Captain Coote's company of the Guards very 
probably — wrote and sighed for Bracegirdle, went home tipsy in many 
a chair, after many a bottle, in many a tavern — fled from many a bailiff. 
In 1709, when the publication of the Tatier began, our great- 
great-grandfathers must have seized upon that new and delightful 
paper with much such eagerness as lovers of light literature in a later 
day exhibited when the Waverley novels appeared, upon which the 
public rushed, forsaking that feeble entertainment of which the Miss 



STEELE, 217 

Porters, the Anne of Swanseas, and worthy Mrs. Radcliffe herself, 
with her dreary castles and exploded old ghosts, had had pretty much 
the monopoly. I have looked over many of the comic books with 
which our ancestors amused themselves, from the novels of Swift's 
coadjutrix, Mrs. Manley, the delectable author of the " New Atlantis," 
to the facetious productions of Tom Durfey, and Tom Brown, and 
Ned Ward, writer of the " London Spy " and several other volumes 
of ribaldry. The slang of the taverns and ordinaries, the wit of the 
Bagnios, form the strongest part of the farrago of which these libels 
are composed. In the excellent newspaper collection at the British 
Museum, you may see, besides, the Craftsmen and Postboy specimens, 
and queer specimens they are, of the higher literature of Queen 
Anne's time. Here is an abstract from a notable journal bearing 
date, Wednesday, October 13th, 1708, and entitled The British Apollo; 
vr, curious amusements for the ingenious, by a society of gentlemen'* 
The British Apollo invited and professed to answer questions upon 
all subjects of wit, morality, science, and even religion ; and two out 
of its four pages are filled with queries and replies much like some of 
the oracular penny prints of the present time. 

One of the first querists, referring to the passage that a bishop 
should be the husband of one wife, argues that polygamy is justifiable 
in the laity. The society of gentlemen conducting the British 
Apollo are posed by this casuist, and promise to give him an answer. 
Celinda then wishes to know from ** the gentlemen," concerning the 
souls of the dead, whether they shall have the satisfaction to know 
those whom they most valued in this transitory life. The gentlemen 
of the Apollo give but cold comfort to poor Celinda. They are 
inclined to think not ; for, say they, since every inhabitant of those 
regions will be infinitely dearer than here are our nearest relatives — 
what have we to do with a partial friendship in that happy place ? 
Poor Celinda ! it may have been a child or a lover whom she had 
lost, and was pining after, when the oracle of British Apollo gave her 
this dismal answer. She has solved the question for herself by this 
time, and knows quite as well as the society of gentlemen. 



2i8 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

From theology we come to physics, and Q. asks, " Why does hot 
water freeze sooner than cold ? " Apollo replies, " Hot water cannot 
be said to freeze sooner than cold ; but water once heated and cold, 
may be subject to freeze by the evaporation of the spirituous parts of 
the water, which renders it less able to withstand the power of frosty 
weather/' 

The next query is rather a delicate one. " You, Mr. Apollo, who 
are said to be the God of wisdom, pray give us the reason why kissing 
is so much in fashion : what benefit one receives by it, and who was 
the inventor, and you will oblige Corinna." To this queer demand 
the lips of Phoebus, smiling, answer : " Pretty innocent Corinna I 
Apollo owns that he was a little surprised by your kissing question^ 
particularly at that f)art of it where you desire to know the benefit 
you receive by it. Ah ! madam, had you a lover, you would not 
come to Apollo for a solution; since there is no dispute but the 
kisses of mutual lovers give infinite satisfaction. As to its invention, 
'tis certain nature was its author, and it began with the first 
courtship." 

After a column more of questions, follow nearly two pages of 
poems, signed by Philander, Armenia, and tlie like, and chiefly on 
the tender passion ; and the paper wound up with a letter from 
Leghorn, an account of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince 
Eugene before Lille, and proposals for publishing two sheets on the 
present state of Ethiopia, by Mr. Hill : all of which is printed for 
the authors by J. Mayo, at the Printing Press against Water Lane in 
Fleet Street. What a change it must have been — ^how ApoUds 
oracles must have been struck dumb, when the Tatler appeared, and 
scholars, gentlemen, men of the world, men of genius, began to 
speak ! 

Shortly before the Boyne was fought, and young Swift had begun 
to make acquaintance with English court manners and English servi- 
tude, in Sir William Temple's family, another Irish youth was brought 
to learn his humanities at the old school of Charterhouse, near 
Smithtield ; to which foundation he had been appointed by James 



STEELE. 219 

Duke of Ormond, a governor of the House, and a patron of the 
lad's family. The boy was an orphan, and described, twenty years 
after, with a sweet pathos and simplicity, some of the earliest 
recollections of a life which was destined to be chequered by a 
strange variety of good and evil fortune. 

I am afraid no good report could be given by his masters and 
ushers of that thick-set, square-faced, black-eyed, soft-hearted little 
Irish boy. He was very idle. He was whipped deservedly a great 
number of times. Though he had very good parts of his own, he got 
other boys to do his lessons for him, and only took just as much 
trouble as should enable him to scuffle through his exercises, and by 
good fortune escape the flogging-block. One hundred and fifty years 
after, I have myself inspected, but only as an amateur, that instni- 
ment of righteous torture still existing, and in occasional use, in a 
secluded private apartment of the old Charterhouse School ; and 
have no doubt it is the ver}*^ counterpart, if not the ancient and 
interesting machine itself, at which poor Dick Steele submitted 
himself to the tormentors. 

Besides being very kind, lazy, and good-natured, this boy went 
invariably into debt with the tart-woman ; ran out of bounds, and 
entered into pecuniary, or rather promissory, engagements with the 
neighbouring lollipop-vendors and piemen — exliibited an early fond- 
ness and capacity for drinking mum and sack, and borrowed from all 
his conurades who had money to lend. I have no sort of authority 
for the statements here made of Steele's early life ; but if the child is 
father of the man, the father of young Steele of Merton, who left 
Oxford without taking a degree, and entered the Life Guards — the 
father of Captain Steele of Lucas's Fusiliers, who got his company 
through the patronage of my Lord Cutts — the father of Mr. Steele 
the Commissioner of Stamps, the editor of the Gazette^ the Tatlery 
and Spectator^ the expelled Member Of Parliament, and the author of 
the ** Tender Husband" and the "Conscious Lovers;" if man and 
boy resembled each other, Dick Steele the schoolboy must have been 
one of the most generous, good-for-nothing, amiable little creatures 



220 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

that ever conjugated the verb tupto, I beat, tuptomaiy I am whipped, 
in any school in Great Britain. 

Almost every gentleman who does me the honour to hear me will 
remember that the very greatest character which he has seen in the 
course of his life, and the person to whom he has looked up with the 
greatest wonder and reverence, was the head boy at his school. 
The schoolmaster himself hardly inspires such an awe. The head 
boy construes as well as the schoolmaster himself. "When he begins 
to speak the hall is hushed, and every little boy listens. He writes 
off copies of Latin verses as melodiously as Virgil. He is good- 
natured, and, his own masterpieces achieved, pours out other copies 
of verses for other boys with an astonishing ease and fluency ; the 
idle ones only trembling lest they should be discovered on giving in 
their exercises, and whipped because their poems were too good. 
I have seen great men in my time, but never such a great one as that 
head boy of my childhood : we all thought he must be Prime 
Minister, and I was disappointed on meeting him in after life to find 
he was no more than six feet high. 

Dick Steele, the Charterhouse gownboy, contracted such an 
admiration in the years of his childhood, and retained it faithfully 
through his life. Through the school and through the world, whither- 
soever his strange fortune led this erring, wayward, affectionate 
creature, Joseph Addison was always his head boy. Addison wrote 
his exercises. Addison did his best themes. He ran on Addison's 
messages : fagged for him and blacked his shoes : to be in Joe's 
company was Dick's greatest pleasure ; and he took a sermon or a 
•caning from his monitor with the most boundless reverence, acqui- 
escence, and affection,* 

Steele found Addison a stately college Don at Oxford, and himself 

♦ "Steele had the greatest veneration for Addison, and used to show it, in 
all companies, in a particular manner. Addison, now and then, used to play 
a little upon him ; but he always took it well." — Pope. Spends Anecdotes, 

** Sir Richard Steele was the best-natured creature in the world : even in his 
worst state of health, he seemed to desire nothing but to please and be pleased.*' 
— Dr. Young. Spencis Anecdotes, 



STEELE. 22i 

did not make much figure at this place. He wrote a comedy, which, 
by the advice of a friend, the humble fellow burned there ; and some 
verses, which I dare say are as sublime as other gentlemen's com- 
position at that age ; but being smitten with a sudden love for military 
glory, he threw up the cap and gown for the saddle and bridle, and 
rode privately in the Horse Guards, in the Duke of Ormond's troop 
— the second — and, probably, with the rest of the gentlemen of his 
troop, "all mounted on black horses with white feathers in their hats, 
and scarlet coats richly laced," marched by King William, in Hyde 
Park, in November, 1699, and a great show of the nobility, besides 
twenty thousand people, and above a thousand coaches. " The 
Guards had just got their new clothes," the London Post said : 
** they are extraordinary grand, and thought to be the finest body of 
horse in the world." But Steele could hardly have seen any actual 
service. He who wrote about himself, his mother, his wife, his loves, 
his debts, his friends, and the wine he drank, would have told us of 
his battles if he had seen any. His old patron, Ormond, probably 
got him his cornetcy in the Guards, from which he was promoted to- 
be a captain in Lucas's Fusiliers, getting his company through the 
patronage of Lord Cutts, whose secretary he was, and to whom he 
dedicated his work called the " Christian Hero." As for Dick, 
whilst writing this ardent devotional work, he was deep in debt, in 
drink, and in all the follies of the town ; it is related that all the 
officers of Lucas's, and the gentlemen of the Guards, laughed at 
Dick.* And in truth a theologian in liquor is not a respectable 

♦ The gaiety of his dramatic tone may be seen in this little scene between 
two brilliant sisters, from his comedy ** The Funeral, or Grief 4 la Mode." Dick 
wrote this, he said, from **a necessity of enlivening his character," which, it 
seemed, the ** Christian Hero " had a tendency to make too decorous, grave, and 
respectable in the eyes of readers of that pious piece. 

[Scene draws and discovers Lady Charlotte, reading at a table, — Lady 
Harriet, playing at a glass, to and fro, and viewing herself. "X 

** Z. Ha. — Nay, good sister, you may as well talk to me [looking at herself as 
she speaks] as sit staring at a book which I know you can't attend. — Good Dr. 
Lucas may have writ there what he pleases, but there's no putting Francis, Lord 



222 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

object, and a hermit, though he may be out at elbows, must not be in 
debt to the tailor. Steele says of himself that he was always sinning 

Hardy, now Earl of Brumpton, out of your head, or making him absent from your 
eyes. Do but look on me, now, and deny it if you can. 

** Z. Ch, — You are the maddest girl [smiling], 

** Z. Ha, — Look ye, I knew you could not say it and forbear laughing [looking 
ever Charlotte], — Oh! I see his name as plain as you do — F-r-a-n, Fran, — 
c-i-s, cis, Francis, *tis in every line of the book. 

** Z. Ch, [rising] — It's in vain, I see, to mind anything in such impertinent 
company — but granting 'twere as you say, as to my Lord Hardy — 'tis more 
excusable to admire another than oneself. 

** L. Ha. — No, I think not, — yes, I grant you, than really to be vain of one*s 
person, but I don't admire myself— Pish ! I don't believe my eyes to have that 
softness. [Looking in the glass,] They a'n't so piercing : no, 'tis only stuff, the 
men will be talking. — Some people are such admirers of teeth — Lord, what 
signifies teeth ! [Showing her teeth,] A very black-a-moor has as white a set 
of teeth as I. — No, sister, I don't admire myself, but I've a spirit of contradiction 
in me : I don't know I'm in love with myself, only to rival the men. 

**Z. Ch, — Ay, but Mr. Campley will gain giound ev'n of that rival of his, 
your dear self. 

" Z. Ha, — Oh, what have I done to you, that you should name that insolent 
intruder? A confident, opinionative fop. No, indeed, if I am, as a poetical 
lover of mine sighed and sung of both sexes. 

The public envy and the public care, 

I shan't be so easily catched — I thank him — I want but to be sure I should 
heartily torment him by banishing him, and then consider whether he should depart 
this life or not. 

**Z. Ch. — Indeed, sister, to be serious with you, this vanity in your humour 
does not at all become you. 

**Z. Ha. — Vanity ! All the matter is, we gay people are more sincere than 
you wise folks: all your life's an art. — Speak you real. — Look you there. — 
[Ilanling her to the glass,] Are you not struck wjth a secret pleasure when, you 
view that bloom in your look, that harmony in your shape, that promptitude in 
your mien ? 

** L, Ch, — Well, simpleton, if I am at first so simple as to be a little taken 
with myself, I know it a fault, and take pains to correct it. 

** Z. /(^a.— Pshaw ! Pshaw ! Talk this musty tale to old Mrs. Fardingale, 'tis 
tiresome for me to think at that rate. 

** Z. Ch, — They that think it too soon to understand themselves will very soon 
find it too late. — But tell me honestly, don't you like Campley ? 

**Z, Ha, — The fellow is not to be abhorred, if the forward thing did not think 
of getting me so easily. — Oh, I hate a heart I can't break when I please. — What 



STEELE. 223 

and repenting. He beat his breast and cried most piteously when he 
did repent : but as soon as crying had made him thirsty, he fell to 
sinning again. In that charming paper in the Taiier, in which he 
records his father's death, his mother's griefs, his own most solemn 
and tender emotions, he says he is interrupted by the arrival of a 
hamper of wine, " the same as is to be sold at Garraway's, next^ 
week ; " upon the receipt of which he sends for three friends, and 
they fall to instantly, " drinking two bottles apiece, with great benefit . 
to themselves, and not separating till two o'clock in the morning." 

His life was so. Jack the drawer was always interrupting it, 
bringing him a bottle from the " Rose," or inviting him over to a 
bout there with Sir Plume and Mr. Diver ; and Dick wiped his eyes, 
which were whimpering over his papers, took down his laced hat, put 
on his sword and wig, kissed his wife and children, told them a lie 
about pressing business, and went off to the "Rose" to the jolly 
fellows. 

While Mr. Addison was abroad, and after he came home in rather 
a dismal way to wait upon Providence in his shabby lodging in the 
Haymarket, young Captain Steele was cutting a much smarter figure 
than that of his classical friend of Charterhouse Cloister and 
Maudlin Walk. Could not some painter give an interview between 
the gallant captain of Lucas's, with his hat cocked, and his lace, and 
his face too, a trifle tarnished with drink, and that poet, that 
philosopher, pale, proud, and poor, his friend and monitor of school- 
days, of all days ? How Dick must have bragged about his chances 
and his hopes, and the fine company he kept, and the charms of the 
reigning toasts and popular actresses, and the number of bottles that 
he and my lord and some other pretty fellows had cracked over- 
night at the " Devil," or the " Garter ! " Cannot one fancy Joseph 

makes the value of dear china, but that 'tis so brittle ? — were it not for that, you 
might as weU have stone mugs in your closet " — The Funtraly Oct 2nd. 

** We knew the obligations the stage had to his writings [Steele's] ; there being 
scarcely a comedian of merit in our whole company whom his Tatlers had not 
made better by his recommendation of them." — Gibber. 



224 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Addison's calm smile and cold grey eyes following Dick for an 
instant, as he struts down the Mall, to dine with the Guard at 
St. James's, before he turns, with his sober pace and threadbare 
suit, to walk back to his lodgings up the two pair of stairs ? Steele's 
name was down for promotion, Dick always said himself, in the 
glorious, pious, and immortal William's last table-book. Jonathan 
Swift's name had been written there by the same hand too. 

Our worthy friend, the author of the " Christian Hero," continued 
to make no small figure about town by the use of his wits.* He was 
appointed Gazetteer: he wrote, in 1703, "The Tender Husband," 
his second play, in which there is some delightful farcical writing, and 
of which he fondly owned in after-life, and when Addison was no 
more, that there were " many applauded strokes " from Addison's 
beloved hand.t Is it not a pleasant partnership to remember? 
Can't one fancy Steele full of spirits and youth, leaving his gay 
company to go to Addison's lodging, where his friend sits in the 
shabby sitting-room, quite serene, and cheerful, and poor? In 1704, 
Steele came on the town with another comedy, and behold it was so 
moral and religious, as poor Dick insisted, — so dull the town thought, 
• — that the " Lying Lover" was damned. 

♦ " There is not now in his sight that excellent man, whom Heaven made his 
friend and superior, to be at a certain place in pain for what he should say^ or do. 
I will go on in his further encouragement. The best woman that ever man had 
cannot now lament and pine at his neglect of himselC" — Steele [of himself]: 
T/id Theatre. No. 12, Feb. 1719-20. 

t " The Funeral " supplies an admirable stroke of humour, — one which 
Sydney Smith has used as an illustration of the faculty in his Lectures. 

The undertaker is talking to his employh about their duty. 

Sable, — ** Ha, you ! — A little more upon the dismal \_formhig their counter 
fiances] ; this fellow has a good mortal look, — place him near the corpse : that 
wainscot-face must be o' top of the stairs ; that fellow's almost in a fright (that 
looks as if he were full of some strange misery) at the end of the hall. So — But 
I'll fix you all myself Let's have no laughing now on any provocation. Look 
yonder, — that hale, well-looking puppy ! You ungrateful scoimdrel, did not I 
pity you, take you out of a great man's service, and show you the pleasure of 
receiving wages ? Did not I give you ten, then fifteen, and tiventy shillings a week 
to be sorro7vful J— and the more I give you I think the gladder you are! " 



STEELE, 225 

Addison's hour of success now came, and he was able to help our 
friend the " Christian Hero " in such a way, that, if there had been 
any chance of keeping that poor tipsy champion upon his legs, his 
fortune was safe, and his competence assured. Steele procured the 
place of Commissioner of Stamps : he wrote so richly, so gracefully 
often, so kindly always, with such a pleasant wit and easy frankness, 
with such a gush of good spirits and good humour, that his early 
papers may be compared to Addison's own, and are to be read, by a 
male reader at least, with quite an equal pleasure.* 

* ** From my own Apartment^ Nov, 16. 
"There are several j^rsons who have many pleasures and entertainments in 
their possession, which they do not enjoy ; it is, therefore, a kind and good office 
to acquaint them with their own happiness, and turn their attention to such 
instances of their good fortune as they are apt to overlook. Persons in the married 
state often want such a monitor ; and pine away their days by looking upon the 
same condition in anguish and murmuring, which carries with it, in the opinion of 
others, a complication of all the pleasures of life, and a retreat from its in- 
quietudes. 

. • **I am led into this thought by a visit I made to an old friend who was 
formerly my schoolfellow. He came to town last week, with his family, for the 
winter ; and yesterday morning sent me word his wife expected me to dinner. I 
am, as it were, at home at that house, and every member of it knows me for their 
well-wisher. I cannot, indeed, express the pleasure it is to be met by the children 
with so much joy as I am when I go thither. The boys and girls strive who shall 
come first, when they think it is I that am knocking at the door; and that child 
which loses the race to me runs back again to tell the father it is Mr. Bickerstaff. 
This day I was led in by a pretty girl that we all thought must have forgot me ; 
for the family has been out of town these two years. Her knowing me again was 
a mighty subject with us, and took up our discourse at the first entrance ; after 
which, they began to rally me upon a thousand little stories they heard in the 
country, about my marriage to one of my neighbours' daughters ; upon which, the 
gentleman, my friend, said, * Nay ; if Mr. Bickerstaff marries a child of any of 
his old companions, I hope mine shall have the preference : there is Mrs. Mary is 
now sixteen, and would make him as fine a widow as the best of them. But 1 
know him too well ; he is so enamoured with the very memory of those who 
flourished in our youth, that he will not so much as look upon the modem 
beauties. I remember, old gentleman, how often you went home in a day to 
refresh your countenance and dress when Teraminta reigned in your heart As we 
came up in the coach, I repeated to my wife some of your verses on her.' With 
such reflections on little passages which happened long ago, we passed our time 
during a cheerful and elegant meal After dinner his lady left the room, as did 

6' ^5 



226 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

After the Toiler in 1711, the famous Spectator made its appear- 
ance, and this was followed, at various intervals, by many periodicals 

also the children. As soon as we were alone, he took me by the hand : * Well, 
my good friend,* says be, * I am heartily glad to see thee ; I was afraid you would 
never have seen all the company that dined with you to-day again. Do not you 
think the good woman of the house a little altered since you followed her from the 
playhouse to find out who she was for me ? * I perceived a tear fall down his 
cheek as he spoke, which moved me not a little. But, to turn the discourse, I 
said, * She is not, indeed, that creature she was when she returned me the letter I 
carried from you, and told me, " She hoped, as I was a gentleman, I would be 
employed no more to trouble her, who had never offended me ; but would be so 
much the gentleman's friend as to dissuade him from a pursuit which he could 
never succeed in." You may remember I thought her in earnest, and you were 
forced to employ your cousin Will, who made his sister get acquainted with her for 
you. You cannot expect her to be for ever fifteen.' * Fifteen ! ' replied my good 
friend. * Ah I you little imderstand — you, that have lived a bachelor — ^how great, 
how exquisite a pleasure there is in being really beloved ! It is impossible that the 
most beauteous face in nature should raise in me such pleasing ideas as when I look 
upon that excellent woman. That fading in her countenance is chiefly caused by 
her watching with me in my fever. This was followed by a fit of sickness, which 
had like to have carried me off last winter. I tell you, sincerely^ I have so many 
obligations to her that I cannot, with any sort of moderation, think of her present 
state of health. But, as to what you say of fifteen, she gives me every day 
pleasure beyond what I ever knew in the possession of her beauty when I was in 
the vigour of youth. Every moment of her life brings me fresh instances of 
her complacency to my inclinations, and her prudence in regard to my fortune. 
Her face is to me much more beautiful than when I first saw it ; there is no decay 
in any feature which I cannot trace from the very instant it was occasioned by 
some anxious concern for my welfare and interests. Thus, at the same time, 
methinks, the love I conceived towards her for what she was, is heightened by my 
gratitude for what she is. The love of a wife is as much above the idle passion 
commonly called by that name, as the loud laughter of buffoons is inferior to the 
elegant mirth of gentlemen. Oh ! she is an inestimable jewel I In her examina- 
tion of her household affairs, she shows a certain fearfulness to find a fault, which 
makes her servants obey her like children ; and the meanest we have has an 
ingenuous shame for an offence not always to be seen in children in other families. 
I speak freely to you, my old friend ; ever since her sickness, things that gave me 
the quickest joy before turn now to a certain anxiety. As the children play in the 
next room, I know the poor things by their steps, and am considering what they 
must do should they lose their mother in their tender years. The pleasure I used 
to take in telling my boy stories of battles, and asking my girl questions about the 
disposal of her baby, and the gossipping of it, is turned into inward reflection and 
melancholy.' ["He 



STEELE. 227 

under the same editor — the Guardian — the Englishman — the Loiter ^ 
whose love was rather insipid — the Reader^ of whom the public 

" He would have gone on in this tender way, when the good lady entered, . 
and, with an inexpressible sweetness in her countenance, told us * she had been 
searching her closet for something very good to treat such an old friend as I was.' 
Her husband's eyes sparkled with pleasure at the cheerfulness of her countenance ; 
and I saw all his fears vanish in an instant. The lady observing something in our 
looks which showed we had been more serious than ordinary, and seeing her 
husband receive her with great concern under a forced cheerfulness, immediately 
guessed at what we had been talking of ; and applying herself to me, said, with a 
smile, * Mr. Bickerstaff, do not believe a word of what he tells you ; I shall still live 
to have you for my second, as I have often promised you, imless he takes more 
care of himself than he has done since his coming to town. You must know he 
tells me, that he finds London is a much more healthy place than the country ; 
for he sees several of his old acquaintances and schoolfellows are \i<ti^— young 
Jdlaws with fair^ full-bottomed periwigs. I could scarce keep him this morning 
frouL going out open-breasted,* My friend, who is always extremely delighted with 
her agreeable humour, made her sit down with us. She did it with that easiness 
which is peculiar to women of sense ; and to keep up the good humour she 
had brought in with her, turned her raillery upon me. *Mr. Bickerstaff, you 
remember you followed me one night from the playhouse ; suppose you should 
carry me thither to-morrow night, and lead me in the front box.' This put us into 
a long field of discourse about the beauties who were the mothers to the present, 
and shined in the boxes twenty years ago. I told her, *I was glad she had 
transferred so many of her charms, and I did not question but her eldest daughter 
was within half-a-year of being a toast. ' 

"We were pleasing ourselves with this fantastical preferment of the young 
lady, when, on a sudden, we were alarmed with the noise of a drum, and imme- 
diately entered my little godson to give me a point of war. His mother, between 
laughing and chiding, would have him put out of the room ; but I would not part 
with him so. I found, upon conversation with him, though he was a little noisy 
in his mirth, that the child had excellent parts, and was a great master of all the 
learning on the other side of eight years old. I perceived him a very great 
historian in * vEsop's Fables ; ' but he frankly declared to me his mind, * that he 
did not delight in that learning, because he did not believe they were true ; ' for 
which reason I found he had very much turned his studies, for about a twelvemonth 
past, into the lives of Don Bellianis of Greece, Guy of Wan^-ick, *the Seven 
Champions,' and other historians of that age. I could not but observe the satis- 
fution the father took in the forwardness of his son, and that these diversions 
might turn to some profit. I found the boy had made remarks which might be of 
service to him during the course of his whole life. He would tell you the mis- 
management of John Hickerthrift, find fault with the passionate temper in Bevis 
of Southampton, and loved St. George for being the champion of England ; and 



228 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

saw no more after his second appearance — the Theatre^ under 
the pseudonym of Sir John Edgar, which Steele wrote while 
Governor of the Royal Company of Comedians, to which post, 
and to that of Surveyor of the Royal Stables at Hampton Court, 
and to the Commission of the Peace for Middlesex, and to the 
honour of knighthood, Steele had been preferred soon after the 
accession of George I. '; whose cause honest Dick had nobly fought, 
through disgrace, and danger, against the most formidable enemies, 
against traitors and bullies, against Bolingbroke and Swift in the last 
reign. With the arrival of the King, that splendid conspiracy broke 
up ; and a golden opportunity came to Dick Steele, whose hand, alas> 
was too careless to gripe it 

Steele married twice ; and outlived his places, his schemes, his 
wife, his income, his health, and almost everything but his kind heart 
That ceased to trouble him in 1729, when he died, worn out and 
almost forgotten by his contemporaries, in Wales, where he had the 
remnant of a property. 

Posterity has been kinder to this amiable creature ; all women 
especially are bound to be grateful to Steele, as he was the first of 
our writers who really seemed to admire and respect them. Congreve 
the Great, who alludes to the low estimation in which women were 
held in Elizabeth's time, as a reason why the women of Shakspeare 

by this means had his thoughts insensibly moulded into the notions of discretion, 
virtue, and honour. I was extolling his accomplishments, when his mother told me 
* that the little girl who led me in this morning was, in her M'ay, a better scholar 
than he. Betty,' said she, * deals chiefly in fairies and sprights ; and sometimes 
in a winter night will terrify the maids with her accounts, until they are afraid to 
go up to bed.* 

** I sat with them until it was very late, sometimes in merry sometimes in 
serious discourse, with this particular pleasure, which gives the only true relish to 
all conversation, a sense that every one of us liked each other. I went home, 
considering the different conditions of a married life and that of a bachelor ; and 
1 must confess it struck me with a secret concern, to reflect, that whenever I go off 
I shall leave no traces behind me. In this pensive mood I return to my family ; 
that is to say, to my maid, my dog, my cat, who only can be the better or worse 
for what happens to me." — The Tatler, 



STEELE. 229 

make so small a figure in the poet's dialogues, though he can himself 
pay splendid compliments to women, yet looks on them as mere 
instruments of gallantry, and destined, like the most consummate 
fortifications, to fall, after a certain time, before the arts and bravery 
of the besieger, man. There is a letter of Swift's, entitled " Advice 
to a very Young Married Lady," which shows the Dean's opinion of 
the female society of his day, and that if he despised man he utterly 
scorned women too. No lady of our time could be treated by any 
man, were he ever so much a wit or Dean, in such a tone of insolent 
patronage and vulgar protection. In this performance. Swift hardly 
takes pains to hide his opinion that a woman is a fool : tells her to 
read books, as if reading was a novel accomplishment ; and informs 
her that " not one gentleman's daughter in a thousand has been 
brought to read or understand her own natural tongue." Addison 
laughs at women equally ; but, with the gentleness and politeness of 
his nature, smiles at them and watches them, as if they were harmless, 
half-i^itted, amusing, pretty creatures, only made to be men's play- 
things. It was Steele who first began to pay a manly homage to 
their goodness and understanding, as well as to their tenderness and 
beauty.* In his comedies, the heroes do not rant and rave about 
the divine beauties of Gloriana or Statira, as the characters were 
made to do in the chivalry romances and the high-flown dramas just 
going out of vogue ; but Steele admires women's virtue, acknowledges 
their sense, and adores their purity and beauty, with an ardour and 
strength which should win the goodwill of all women to their hearty 

* " As to the pursuits after affection and esteem, the fair sex are happy in this 
particular, that with them the one is much more nearly related to the other than 
in men. The love of a woman is inseparable from some esteem of her ; and as 
she is naturally the object of affection, the woman who has your esteem has also 
some degree of your love. A man that dotes on a woman for her beauty, will 
whisper his friend, *That creature has a great deal of wit when you are well 
acquainted with her.* And if you examine the bottom of your esteem for a 
woman, you will find you have a greater opinion of her beauty than anybody else. 
As to us men, I design to pass most of my time with the facetious Harry Bickcr- 
3taff ; but William Bickcrstaff, the most prudent man of our family, shall be my 
•executor."— r^/Z/r, No. 206. 



230 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

and respectful champion. It is this ardour, this respect, this man- 
liness, which makes his comedies so pleasant and their heroes such 
fine gentlemen. He paid the finest compliment to a woman that 
perhaps ever was offered. Of one woman, whom Congreve had also 
admired and celebrated, Steele says, that " to have loved her was a 
liberal education." " How often," he says, dedicating a volume to 
his wife, " how often has your tenderness removed pain from my sick 
head, how often anguish from my afflicted heart ! If there are such 
beings as guardian angels, they are thus employed. I cannot believe 
one of them to be more good in inclination, or more charming in 
form than my wife." His breast seems to warm and his eyes to 
kindle when he meets with a good and beautiful woman, and it is 
with his heart as well as with his hat that he salutes her. About 
children, and all that relates to home, he is not less tender, and more 
than once speaks in apology of what he calls his softness. He would 
have been nothing without that delightful weakness. It is that which 
gives his works their worth and his style its charm. It, like his life, 
is full of faults and careless blunders ; and redeemed, like that, by his 
sweet and compassionate nature. 

We possess of poor Steele's wild and chequered life some of the 
most curious memoranda that ever were left of a man's biography.* 

* The Correspondence of Steele passed after his death into the possession <5f 
his daughter Elizabeth, by his second wfe, Miss Scurlock, of Carmarthenshire. 
She married the Hon. John, afterwards third Lord Trevor. At her death, 
part of the letters passed to Mr. Thomas, a grandson of a natural daughter of 
Steele's ; and part to Lady Trevor's next of kin, Mr. Scurlock. They were 
published by the learned Nichols — from whose later edition of them, in 1809, our 
specimens are quoted. 

Here we have him, in his courtship — which was not a very long one : — 

"To Mrs. Scurlock. 
**Madam, — ** Aug. 30, 1707. 

" I BEG pardon that my paper is not finer, but I am forced to write from a 
coffee-house, where I am attending about business. There is a dirty crowd of busy 
faces all around me, talking of money ; while all my ambition, all my wealth, is 
love ! Love which animates my heart, sweetens my humour, enlarges my soul, 
and affects every action of my life. It is to my lovely charmer I owe, that mimy 
noble ideas are continually affixed to my words and actions; it is the natural 



STEELE. 231 

Most men's letters, from Cicero c1o\\ti to Walpole, or down to the 
great men of our own time, if you will, are doctored compositions, 
and written with an eye suspicious towards posterity. That dedication 
of Steele's to his wife is an artificial performance, possibly ; at least, 

effect of that generous passion to create in the admirer some similitude of the 
object admired. Thus, my dear, am I every day to improve from so sweet a com- 
panion. Look up, my fair one, to that Heaven which made thee such ; and join 
with me to implore its influence on our tender innocent hours, and beseech the 
Author of love to bless the rites I le has ordained — and mingle with our happi- 
ness a just sense of our transient condition, and a resignation to His will, which 
only can regulate our minds to a steady endeavour to please I lim and each other. 

'* 1 am for ever your faithful servant, 

" Ricir. Steele." 

Some few hours afterwards, apparently; Mistress Scurlock received the next 
one — obviously written later in the day I — 

"Dear, Lovely Mrs. Scurlock, — ^^ Saturday night {Aug. 30, 1707). 

** I HAVE been in very good company, where your health, under the 
character of the 7ooman I lcn*ed bcsi^ has l)een often drunk ; so that I may say 
that I am dead drunk for your sake, which is more than I die for ymt. 

**RiciL Steele." 

"To Mrs. Scurlock. 
"Madam,— ^^ Sept, i, 1707. 

" It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend busi- 
ness. As for me, all who speak to me find me out, and I must lock myself 
up, or other people will do it for me. 

**A gentleman asked me this morning, * What news from Lisbon?' and I 
answered, ' She is exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know * when I had 
last been at Hampton Court?' I replied, * It will be on Tuesdjiy come se'nnight.' 
Pr'ythee allow me at least to kiss your hand before that day, that my mind may be 
in some composure. O Love ! 

* A thousand torments dwell about thee. 
Yet who could live, to live without thee ? ' 

** Methinks I could write a volume to you ; but all the language on earth would 
fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, 

** I am ever yours, 

" Rich. Steele." 

Two days after this, he is found expounding his circumstances and prospects 
to the young lady's mamma. He dates from " Lord Sunderland's office, White- 
hall;" and states his clear income at 1,025/. P^*" annum. "I promise myself," 
says he, "the pleasure of an industrious and virtuous life, in studying to do things 
agreeable to you." [They 



232 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

it is written with that degree of artifice which an orator uses in 
arranging a statement for the House, or a poet employs in preparing 
a sentiment in verse or for the stage. But there are some 400 letters 

They were married, according to the most probable conjectures, about the 
7th Sfept. There are traces of a tiff about the middle of the next month ; she 
being prudish and fidgety, as he was impassioned and reckless. General pro- 
gress, however, may be seen from the following notes. The ** house in Bury 
Street, St James's," was now taken. 

"To Mrs. Steele. 
"Dearest Being on Earth,— *' Oct, 16, 1707. 

** Pardon me if you do not see me till eleven o'clock, having met a school- 
fellow from India, by whom I am to be informed on things this night which 

expressly concern your obedient husband, 

" Rich. Steele." 

"To Mrs. Steele. 

^^ Eight o^ciocky Fountain Taz'eni, 
"My Dear,— Oct. 22, 1707. 

" I BEG of you not to be uneasy ; for I have done a great deal of business 
to-day very successfully, and wait an hour or two about my Gazcttcy 

"My dear, dear Wife, — "Z>^r. 22, 1707. 

" I write to let you know I do not come home to dinner, being obliged to 
attend some business abroad, of which I shall give you an account (when I sec 
you in the evening), as becomes your dutiful and obedient husband." 

* * Devil Tavern ^ Temple Bar, 
"DearPrue,— * >//. 3, 1707.8. 

" I HAVE partly succeeded in my business to-day, and inclose two guineas 
as earnest of more. Dear Prue, I cannot come home to dinner. I languish for 
your welfare, and will never be a moment careless more. 

" Your faithful husband," &c 

"Dear Wife,— ">«. 14, 1707-8. 

"Mr. Edgecombe, Ned Ask, and Mr. Lumley have desired me to sit an 
hour with them at the * George,' in Pall Mall, for which I desire your patience 
till twelve o'clock, and that you will go to bed," &c. 

" Dear Prue,— " Gray's Inn, Feb. 3, 1708. 

" If the man who has my shoemaker's bill calls, let him be answered that 
I shall call on him as I come home. I stay here in order to gel Jonson to 
discount a bill for me, and shall dine with him for that end. He W expected at 
home every minute. Your most humble, obedient servant," &c. 

["Dear 



STEELE, 233 

of Dick Steele's to his wife, which that thrifty woman preserved 
accurately, and which could have been written but for her and 
her alone. They contain details of the business, pleasures, quarrels, 
reconciliations of the pair ; they have all the genuineness of conver- 
sation ; they are as artless as a child's prattie, and as confidential as 
a curtain-lecture. Some are written from the printing-office, where 
he is waiting for the proof-sheets of his Gazette^ or his Tailer ; some 
are written from the tavern, whence he promises to come to his 
wife " within a pint of wine," and where he has given a rendezvous 
to a friend, or a money-lender : some are composed in a high state of 
vinous excitement, when his head is flustered with burgundy, and his 
heart abounds with amorous warmth for his darling Prue : some are 
under the influence of the dismal headache and repentance next 
morning : some, alas, are from the lock-up house, where the lawyers 
have impounded him, and where he is waiting for bail. You trace 

** Dear Wife, — " Tamis-cottrt Coffee-house^ May 5, 1708. 

* * I HOPE I have done this day what will be pleasing to you ; in the mean- 
time shall lie this night at a baker's, one Leg, over against the * Devil Tavern,' 
at Charing Cross. I shall be able to confront the fools who wish me uneasy, and 
shall have the satisfaction to see thee cheerful and at ease. 

** If the printer's boy be at home, send him hither ; and let Mrs. Todd send by 
the boy my night-gown, slippers, and clean linen. You shall hear from me early 
in the morning," &c. 

Dozens of similar letters follow, with occasional guineas, little parcels of tea, 
or walnuts, &c. In 1709 the Tatler made its appearance. The following curious 
note dates April 7th, 1710: — 

" I inclose to you [* Dear Prue'] a receipt for the saucepan and spoon, and a 
note of 23/. of Lewis's, which will make up the 50/. I promised for your ensuing 
occasion. 

**I know no happiness in this life in any d^ee comparable to the pleasure 
I have in your person and society. I only beg of you to add to your other charms 
a fearfulness to see a man that loves you in pain and uneasiness, to make me as 
happy as it is possible to be in this life. Rising a little in a morning, and being 
disposed to a cheerfulness would not be amiss." 

In another, he is found excusing his coming home, being "invited to supper 
to Mr. Boyle's." " Dear Prue," he says on this occasion, "do not send after me, 
for I shall be ridiculous." 



234 EN GUSH HUMOURISTS, 

many years of the poor fellow's career in these letters. In September, 
1707, from which day she b^an to save the letters, he married the 
beautiful Mistress ScurlocL You have his passionate protestations 
to the lady; his respectful proposals to her mamma; his private 
prayer to Heaven when the union so ardently desired was completed ; 
his fond professions of contrition and promises of amendment, when, 
immediately after his marriage, there began to be just cause for the 
one and need for the other. 

Captain Steele took a house for his lady upon their marriage, 
*' the third door from Germam Street, left hand of Berry Street," and 
the next year he presented his wife with a country house at Hampton. 
It appears she had a chariot and pair, and sometimes four horses : he 
himself enjoyed a little horse for his own riding. He paid, or 
promised to pay, his barber fifty pounds a year, and always went 
abroad in a laced coat and a large black buckled periwig, that must 
have cost somebody fifty guineas. He was rather a well-to-do gentle- 
man, Captain Steele, with the proceeds of his estates in Barbadoes 
(left to him by his first wife), his income as a writer of the Gazette^ 
and his office of gentleman waiter to his Royal Highness Prince 
George. His second wife brought him a fortune too. But it is 
melancholy to relate, that with these houses and chariots and horses 
and income, the Captain was constantly in want of money, for which 
his beloved bride was asking as constantly. In the course of a few 
pages we begin to find the shoemaker calling for money, and some 
directions from the Captain, who has not thirty pounds to spare. 
He sends his wife, " the beautifullest object in the world," as he 
calls her, and evidently in reply to applications of her own, which 
have gone the way of all waste paper, and lighted Dick's pipes, which 
were smoked a hundred and forty years ago — he sends his wife now 
a guinea, then a half-guinea, then a couple of guineas, then half a 
pound of tea ; and again no money and no tea at all, but a promise 
that his darling Prue shall have some in a day or two : or a request, 
perhaps, that she will send over his night-gown and shaving-plate to 
the temporary lodging where the nomadic Captain is lying, hidden 



STEELE. 2-. 



j> 



from the bailiffs. Oh ! that a Christian hero and late Captain in 
Lucas's should be afraid of a dirty sheriff's officer ! That the pink 
and pride of chivalry should turn pale before a writ ! It stands to 
record in poor Dick's own handwriting — the queer collection is pre- 
served at the British Museum to this present day — that the rent of the 
nuptial house in Jermyn Street, sacred to unutterable tenderness and 
Prue, and three doors from Bury Street, was not paid until after the 
landlord had put in an execution on Captain Steele's furniture. Addison 
sold the house and furniture at Hampton, and, after deducting the 
sum in which his incorrigible friend was indebted to him, handed 
over the residue of the proceeds of the sale to poor Dick, who wasn't 
in the least angry at Addison's summary proceeding, and I dare say 
was very glad of any sale or execution, the result of which was to 
give him a little ready money. Having a small house in Jermyn 
Street for which he couldn't pay, and a country house at Hampton 
on which he had borrowed money, nothing must content Captain 
Dick but the taking, in 1 7 1 2, a much fmer, larger, and grander house, 
in Bloomsbury Square; where his unhappy landlord got no better 
satisfaction than his friend in St. James's, and where it is recorded 
that Dick, giving a grand entertainment, had a half-dozen queer- 
looking fellows in livery to wait upon his noble guests, and confessed 
that his servants were bailiffs to a man. " I fared like a distressed 
prince," the kindly prodigal writes, generously complimenting Addison 
for his assistance in the Tat/er, — ** I fared like a distressed prince, 
who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid. I was undone by my 
auxiliary ; when I had once called him in, I could not subsist without 
dependence on him." Poor, needy Prince of Bloomsbury ! think of 
him in his palace, with his allies from Chancery Lane ominously 
guarding him. 

All sorts of stories are told indicative of his recklessness and his 
good humour. One narrated by Dr. Hoadly is exceedingly cliarac- 
teristic ; it shows the life of the time : and our poor friend very weak, 
but very kind both in and out of his cups. 

"My father," says Dr. John Hoadly, the Bishop's son, "when 



236 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Bishop of Bangor, was, by invitation, present at one of the Whig 
meetings, held at the * Trumpet,* in Shire Lane, when Sir Richard, in 
his zeal, rather exposed himself, having the double duty of the day 
upon him, as well to celebrate the immortal memory of King William, 
it being the 4th November, as to drink his friend Addison up to 
conversation pitch, whose phlegmatic constitution was hardly warmed 
for society by that time. Steele was not fit for it. Two remarkable 
circumstances happened. John Sly, the hatter of facetious memory, 
was in the house ; and John, pretty mellow, took it into his head to 
come into the company on his knees, with a tankard of ale in his 
hand to drink off to the immortal memory^ and to return in the same 
manner. Steele, sitting next my father, whispered him — Do laugh. 
It is humanity to laugh. Sir Richard, in the evening, being too much 
in the same condition, was put into a chair, and sent home. No- 
thing would serve him but being carried to the Bishop of Bangor's, 
late as it was. However, the chairmen carried him home, and got 
him upstairs, when his great complaisance would wait on them down- 
stairs, which he did, and then was got quietly to bed." * 

There is another amusing story which, I believe, that renowned 
collector, Mr. Joseph Miller, or his successors, have incorporated into 
their work. Sir Richard Steele, at a time when he was much occu- 
pied with theatrical affairs, built himself a pretty private theatre, and, 
before it was opened to his friends and guests, was anxious to try 
whether the hall was well adapted for hearing. Accordingly he placed 
himself in the most remote part of the gallery, and begged the 
carpenter who had built the house to speak up from the stage. The 
man at first said that he was unaccustomed to public speaking, and 
did not know what to say to his honour ; but the good-natured knight 
called out to him to say whatever was uppermost ; and, after a moment, 
the carpenter began, in a voice perfectly audible : " Sir Richard 
Steele 1 " he said, ** for three months past me and my men has been a 

* Of this famous Bishop, Steele wrote, — 

** Virtue with so much ease on Bangor sits, 
All faults he pardons, though he none commits." 



STEELE, 237 

working in this theatre, and weVe never seen the colour of your 
honour's money : we will be very much obliged if you'll pay it 
directly, for until you do we won't drive in another nail." Sir Richard 
said that his friend's elocution was perfect, but that he didn't like his 
subject much. 

The great charm of Steele's writing is its naturalness. He wrote 
so quickly and carelessly, that he was forced to make the reader his 
confidant, and had not the time to deceive him. He had a small 
share of book-learning, but a vast acquaintance with the world. He 
had known men and taverns. He had lived with gdwnsmen, with 
troopers, with gentlemen ushers of the Court, with men and women 
of fashion ; with authors and wits, with the inmates of the spunging- 
houses, and with the frequenters of all the clubs and coffee-houses in 
the town. He was liked in all company because he liked it; and 
you like to see his enjoyment as you like to see the glee of a boxful 
of children at the pantomime. He was not of those lonely ones of 
the earth whose greatness obliged them to be solitary; on the 
contrary, he admired, I think, more than any man who ever wrote ; 
and full of hearty applause and sympathy, wins upon you by calling 
you to share his delight and good humour. His laugh rings through 
the whole house. He must have been invaluable at a tragedy, and 
have cried as much as the most tender young lady in the boxes. He 
has a relish for beauty and goodness wherever he meets it. He 
admired Shakspeare affectionately, and more than any man of his 
time ; and, according to his generous expansive nature, called upon 
all his company to like what he liked himself. He did not damn 
with faint praise : he was in the world and of it ; and his enjoyment 
of life presents the strangest contrast to Swift's savage indignation 
and Addison's lonely serenity.* Permit me to read to you a passage 

♦ Here we have some of his later letters : — 

"To Lady Steele. 

"Dear Prue, ^* Hampton Courts March 16, 1 7 16- 1 7. 

**If you have written anything to me which I should have received last 
night, I beg your pardon that I cannot answer till the next post Your son 



238 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

from each writer, curiously indicative of his peculiar humour : the 
subject is the same, and the mood the very gravest We have said 

at the present writing is mighty well employed in tumbling on the floor of the 
room and sweeping the sand with a feather. He grows a most delightful child, 
and very full of play and spirit. He is also a very great scholar : he can read his 
primer ; and I have brought down my VirgiL He makes most shrewd remarks 
about the pictures. We are very intimate friends and playfellows. He b^ins to 
be very ragged ; and I hope I shall be pardoned if I equip him with new clothes 
and frocks, or what Mrs. Evans and I shall think for his service." 

"To Lady Steele. 

[Undated.] 
" You tell me you want a little flattery from me. I assure you I know no one 
who deserves so much commendation as yourself, and to whom saying the best 
things would be so little like flattery. The thing speaks for itself, considering yon 
as a very handsome woman that loves retirement — one who does not want wit, and 
yet is extremely sincere ; and so I could go through all the vices which attend the 
good qualities of other people, of which you are exempt But, indeed, though 
you have every perfection, you have an extravagant fault, which almost frustrates 
the good in you to me ; and that is, that you do not love to dress, to appear, to 
shine out, even at my request, and to make me proud of you, or rather to_^ indulge 

the pride I have that you are mine 

** Your most affectionate, obsequious husband, 

" Richard Steele. 
** A quarter of Molly's schooling is paid. The children are perfectly welL" 

**To Lady Steele. 
"My dearest Prue, *' March 26, 1717. 

"I HAVE received yours, wherein you give me the sensible affliction of 
telling me enow of the continual pain in your head. .... When I lay in your 
place, and on your pillow, I assure you I fell into tears last night, to think that my 
charming little insolent might be then awake and in pain ; and took it to be a sin 
to go to sleep. 

** For this tender passion towards you, I must be contented that your Pnteship 
will condescend to call yourself my well-wisher " 

At the time when the above later letters were written. Lady Steele was in 
Wales, looking after her estate there. Steele, about this time, was much occupied 
with a project for conveying fish alive, by which, as he constantly assures his wife, 
he firmly believed he should make his fortune. It did not succeed, however. 

Lady Steele died in December of the succeeding year. She lies buried in 
Westminster Abbey. 



STEELE. 239 

that upon all the actions of man, the most trifling and the most 
solemn, the humourist takes upon himself to comment. All readers 
of our old masters know the terrible lines of Swift, in which he hints 
at his philosophy and describes the end of mankind : — * 

•* Amazed, confused, its fate unknown, 
The world stood trembling at Jove's throne ; 
While each pale sinner hung his head, 
Jove, nodding, shook the heavens and said : 

* Offending race of human kind, 
By nature, reason, learning, blind ; 
You who through frailty stepped aside, 
And you who never err*d through pride ; 
You who in different sects were shammM, 
And come to see each other damn*d ; 
(So some folk told you, but they knew 
No more of Jove's designs than you ;) 
The world's mad business now is o'er, 
And I resent your freaks no more ; 
/ to such blockheads set my wit, 
I damn such fools — go, go, you're bit ! ' " 

Addison, speaking on the very same theme, but with how different 
a voice, says, in his famous paper on Westminster Abbey {Spectator, 
No. 26) : — " For my own part, though I am always serious, I do not 
know what it is to be melancholy, and can therefore take a view of 
nature in her deep and solemn scenes with the same pleasure as in 
her most gay and delightful ones. When I look upon the tombs of 
the great, every emotion of envy dies within me ] when I read the 
epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out ; when I 
meet with the grief of parents on a tombstone, my heart melts with 
compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I 
consider the vanity of grieving for those we must quickly follow." 
(I have owned that I do not think Addison's heart melted very much, 
or that he indulged very inordinately in the ** vanity of grieving.") 
" When," he goes on, " when I see kings lying by those who deposed 
them : when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men 

* Lord Chesterfield sends these verses to Voltaire in a characteristic letter. 



240 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

that divided the world with their contests and disputes, — I reflect 
with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and 
debates of mankind. And, when I read the several dates on the 
tombs of some that died yesterday and some 600 years ago, I consider 
that Great Day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make 
our appearance together." 

Our third humourist comes to speak upon the same subject. You 
will have observed in the previous extracts the characteristic humour 
of each writer — the subject and the contrast — the fact of Death, and 
the play of individual thought, by which each comments on it, and 
now hear the third writer — death, sorrow, and the grave being for the 
moment also his theme. " The first sense of sorrow I ever knew," 
Steele says in the Tatler^ " was upon the death of •my father, at 
which time I was not quite five years of age : but was rather amazed 
at what all the house meant, than possessed of a real understanding 
why nobody would play with us. I remember I went into the room 
where his body lay, and my mother sate weeping alone by it. I had my 
battledore in my hand, and fell a beating the coffin, and calling papa ; 
for, I know not how, I had some idea that he was locked up there. 
My mother caught me in her arms, and, transported beyond all 
patience of the silent grief she was before in, she almost smothered 
• me in her embraces, and told me in a flood of tears, * Papa could not 
hear me, and would play with me no more : for they were going to 
put him under ground, whence he would never come to us again.* 
She was a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit, and there was a 
dignity in her grief amidst all the wildness of her transport, which me- 
thought struck me with an instinct of sorrow that, before I was sensible 
what it was to grieve, seized my very soul, and has made pity the 
weakness of my heart ever since." 

Can there be three more characteristic moods of minds and men ? 
" Fools, do you know anything of this mystery ? " says S^^'ift, stamping 
on a grave, and carrying his scorn for mankind actually beyond it. 
" Miserable, purblind wretches, how dare you to pretend to compre- 
hend the Inscrutable, and how can your dim eyes pierce the 



STEELE. 241 

unfathomable depths of yonder boundless heaven ? " Addison, in a 
much kinder language and gentler voice, utters much the same senti- 
ment : and speaks of the rivalry of wits, and the contests of holy men, 
with the same sceptic placidity. " Look what a little vain dust we 
are," he says, smiling over the tombstones ; and catching, as is his 
wont, quite a divine eflfulgence as he looks heavenward, he speaks, in 
words of inspiration almost, of "the Great Day, when we shall all of 
us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together." 

The third, whose theme is Death, too, and who will speak his 
word of moral as Heaven teaches him, leads you up to his father's 
coffin, and shows you his beautiful mother weeping, and himself an 
unconscious little boy wondering at her side. His own natural tears 
flow as he takes your hand and confidingly asks your sympathy. 
" See how good and innocent and beautiful women are," he says ; 
** how tender little children ! Let us love these and one another, 
brother — God knows we have need of love and pardon." So it is 
each man looks with his own eyes, speaks with his own voice, and 
prays his own prayer. 

When Steele ^^ks your sympathy for the actors in that charming 
scene of Love arfd Grief and Death, who can refuse it ? One yields 
to it as to the frank advance of a child, or to the appeal of a woman. 
A man is seldom more manly than when he is what you call unmanned 
— the source of his emotion is championship, pity, and courage ; the 
instinctive desire to cherish those who are innocent and unhappy, and 
defend those who are tender and weak. If Steele is not our friend 
he is nothing. He is by no means the most brilliant of wits nor the 
deepest of thinkers : but he is our friend : we love him, as children 
love their love with an A, because he is amiable. Who likes a man 
best because he is the cleverest or the wisest of mankind ; or a woman 
because she is the most virtuous, or talks French, or plays the piano 
better than the rest of her sex ? I own to liking Dick Steele the man, 
and Dick Steele the author, much better than much better men and 
much better authors. 

The misfortune regarding Steele is, that most part of the company 

16 



242 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Yitat present must take his amiability upon hearsay, and certainly can't 
make his intimate acquaintance. Not that Steele was worse than his 
time; on the contrary, a far better, truer, and higher-hearted man 
than most who lived in it But things were done in that society, and 
names were named, which would make you shudder now. What would 
be the sensation of a polite youth of the present day, if at a ball he 
saw the young object of his affections taking a box out of her pocket 
and a pinch of snuff: or if at dinner, by the charmer's side, she 
deUberately put her knife into her mouth ? If she cut her mother's 
throat with it, mamma would scarcely be more shocked. I allude to 
these peculiarities of by-gone times as an excuse for my favourite, 
Steele, who was not worse, and often much more delicate than his 
neighbours. 

There exists a ciuious docmnent descriptive of the manners of the 
last age, which describes most minutely the amusements and occupa- 
tions of persons of fashion in London at the time of which we are 
speaking ; the time of Swift, and Addison, and Steele. 

"When Lord Sparkish, Tom Neverout, and Colonel Alwit, the im- 
mortal personages of Swift's polite conversation, came to breakfast 
with my Lady Smart, at eleven o'clock in the morning, my Lord, 
Smart was absent at the lev^e. His lordship was at home to dinner 
at three o'clock to receive his guests ; and we may sit down to this 
meal, like the Barmecide's, and see the fops of the last century before 
us. Seven of them sat down at dinner, and were joined by a coimtry 
baronet who told them they kept court hours. These persons of 
fashion began their dinner with a sirloin of beef, fish, a shoulder of 
veal, and a tongue. My Lady Smart carved the sirloin, my Lady 
Answerall helped the fish, and the gallant Colonel cut the shoulder 
of veaL All made a considerable inroad on the sirloin and the 
shoulder of veal with the exception of Sir John, who had no appetite 
having aheady partaken of a beefsteak and two mugs of ale, besides 
a tankard of March beer as soon as he got out of bed. They drank 
claret, which the master of the house said should always be drunk 
after fish; and. my Lord Smart particularly reconmiended some 



STEELE, 243 

excellent cider to my Lord Sparkish, which occasioned some brilliant 
remarks from that nobleman. When the host called for wine, he 
nodded to one or other of his guests, and said, " Tom Neverout, my 
service to you." 

After the first course came almond-pudding, fritters, which the 
Colonel took with his hands out of the dish, in order to help the 
brilliant Miss Notable; chickens, black puddings, and soup; and 
Lady Smart, the elegant mistress of the mansion, finding a skewer in 
a dish, placed it in her plate with directions that it should be carried 
down to the cook and dressed for the cook*s own dinner. Wine and 
small beer were drunk during this second course; and when the 
Colonel called for beer, he called the butler Friend, and asked 
whether the beer was good. Various jocular remarks passed from 
the gentlefolks to the servants ; at breakfast several persons had a 
word and a joke for Mrs. Betty, my lady's maid, who warmed the 
cream and had charge of the canister (the tea cost thirty shillings a pound 
in those days). When my Lady Sparkish sent her footman out to 
my Lady Match to come at six o'clock and play at quadrille, her 
ladyship warned the man to follow his nose, and if he fell by the way 
not to stay to get up again. And when the gentlemen asked the 
hall-porter if his lady was at home, that functionary replied, with 
manly waggishness, " She was at home just now, but she's not gone 
out yet." 

After the puddings, sweet and black, the fritters and soup, came 
the third course, of which the chief dish was a hot venison pasty, 
which was put before Lord Smart, and carved by that nobleman. 
Besides the pasty, there was a hare, a rabbit, some pigeons, 
partridges, a goose, and a ham. Beer and wine were freely imbibed 
during this course, the gentlemen always pledging somebody with every 
glass which they drank ; and by this time the conversation between 
Tom Neverout and Miss Notable had grown so brisk and lively, that 
the Derbyshire baronet began to think the young gentlewoman was 
Tom's sweetheart ; on which Miss remarked, that she loved Tom 
** like pie." After the goose, some of the gentlemen took a dram of 



244 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

brandy, "which was very good for the wholesomes," Sir John said ; 
and now having had a tolerably substantial dinner, honest Lord 
Smart bade the butler bring up the great tankard full of October to 
Sir John. The great tankard was passed from hand to hand and 
mouth to mouth, but when pressed by the noble host upon the 
gallant Tom Neverout, he said, " No, faith, my lord ; I hke your wine, 
and won't put a churl upon a gentleman. Your honour's claret is 
good enough for me." And so, the dinner over, the host said, 
" Hang saving, bring us up a ha*porth of cheese." 

The cloth was now taken away, and a bottle of burgundy was set 
down, of which the ladies were invited to partake before they went 
to their tea. When they withdrew, the gentlemen promised to join 
them in an hour : fresh bottles were brought ; the " dead men," 
meaning the empty bottles, removed ; and " D'you hear, John ? 
bring clean glasses," my Lord Smart said. On which the gallant 
Colonel Alwit said, " I'll keep my glass ; for wine is the best liquor 
to wash glasses in." 

After an hour the gentlemen joined the ladies, and then they all 
sat and played quadrille until three o'clock in the morning, when the 
chairs and the flambeaux came, and this noble company went to bed. 

Such were manners six or seven score years ago. I draw no 
inference from this queer picture — let all moralists here present 
deduce their own.* Fancy the moral condition of that society in 
which a lady of fashion joked with a footman, and carved a sirloin, 
and provided besides a great shoulder of veal, a goose, hare, rabbit, 
chickens, partridges, black puddings, and a ham for a dinner for 
eight Christians. "What — what could have been the condition of 
that polite world in which people openly ate goose after almond- 
pudding, and took their soup in the middle of dinner? Fancy a 
Colonel in the Guards putting his hand into a dish of beigncts 
iTabricot, and helping his neighbour, a young lady du tnonde ! Fancy 
21 noble lord calling out to the servants, before the ladies at his table, 
" Hang expense, bring us a ha'porth of cheese ! " Such were the 
ladies of Saint James's — such were the frequenters of "WTiite's 



STEELE, 245 

Chocolate-House," when Swift used to visit it, and Steele described 
it as the centre of pleasure, gallantry, and entertainment, a hundred 
and forty years ago ! 

Dennis, who ran amuck at the literary society of his day, (alls 
foul of poor Steele, and thus depicts him : — " Sir John Edgar, of the 

county of in Ireland, is of a middle stature, broad shoulders, 

thick legs, a shape like the picture of somebody over a farmer^s 
chimney — a short chin, a short nose, a short forehead, a broad flat 
face, and a dusky countenance. Yet with such a face and such a 
shape, he discovered at sixty that he took himself for a beauty, and 
appeared to be more mortified at being told that he was ugly, than he 
was by any reflection made upon his honour or understanding. 

" He is a gentleman born, witness himself, of very honourable 
family ; certainly of a very ancient one, for his ancestors flourished in 
Tipperary long before the English ever set foot in Ireland. He has 
testimony of this more authentic than the Herald's Office, or any 
human testimony. For God has marked him more abundantly than 
he did Cain, and stamped his native country on his face, his under- 
standing, his writings, his actions, his passions, and, above all, his 
vanity. The Hibernian brogue is still upon all these, though long 
habit and length of days have worn it off" his tongue." * 

Although this portrait is the work of a man who was neither the 
friend of Steele nor of any other man alive, yet there is a dreadful 
resemblance to the original in the savage and exaggerated traits of 

* Steele replied to Dennis in an ** Answer to a Whimsical Pamphlet, called 
the Character of Sir John Edgar. ** What Steele had to say against the cross- 
grained old Critic discovers a great deal of humour : — 

** Thou never didst let the sun into thy garret, for fear he should bring a bailiff 
along with him 

"Your years are about sixty-five, an ugly, vinegar face, that if you had any 
command you would be obeyed out of fear, from your ill -nature pictured there ; 
not from any other motive. Your height is about some five feet five inches. You 
see I can give your exact measure as well as if I had taken your dimension with a 
good cudgel, which I promise you to do as soon as ever I have the good fortune to 
meet you ["Your 



246 • ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

the caricature, and everybody who knows him must recognize Dick 
Steele. Dick set about almost all the imdertakings of his life with 
inadequate means, and, as he took and furnished a house with the 
most generous intentions towards his friends, the most tender 
gallantry towards his wife, and with this only drawback, that he had 
not wherewithal to pay the rent when quarter-day came, — so, in his 
life he proposed to himself the most magnificent schemes of virtue, 
forbearance, public and private good, and the advancement of his 
own and the national religion ; but when he had to pay for these 
articles — so difficult to purchase and so costly to maintain — poor 
Dick's money was not forthcoming : and when Virtue called with her 
little bill, Dick made a shuffling excuse that he could not see her 
that morning, having a headache from being tipsy overnight ; or 
when stem Duty rapped at the door with his account, Dick was 
absent and not ready to pay. He was shirking at the tavern ; or had 
some particular business (of somebody's else) at the ordinary : or he 
was in hiding, or worse than in hiding, in the lock-up house. AVhat 
a situation for a man ! — for a philanthropist — for a lover of right and 

** Your doughty paunch stands before you like a firkin of butter, and your 
duck legs seem to be cast for carrying burdens. 

**Thy works are libels upon others, and satires upon thyself; and while they 
bark at men of sense, caU him knave and fool that wrote them. Thou hast a 
great antipathy to thy own species ; and hat est the sight of a fool but in thy glass." 

Steele had been kind to Dennis, and once got arrested on account of a pecu- 
niary service which he did him. When John heard of the fact — ** S*death ! " cries 
John ; ** why did not he keep out of the way as I did ? " 

The "Answer" concludes by mentioning that Gibber had offered Ten Pounds 
for the discovery of the authorship of Dennis's pamphlet ; on which, says Steele, — 
** I am only sorry he has offered so much, because the twattidh part would 
have over-valued his whole carcase. But I know the fellow that he keeps to give 
ansAvers to his creditors will betray him ; for he gave me his word to bring ofHcers 
on the top of the house that should make a hole through the ceiling of his garret, 
and so bring him to the punishment he deserves. Some people think this 
expedient out of the way, and that he would make his escape upon hearing the 
least noise. I say so too ; but it takes him up half an hour every night to fortify 
himself with his old hair trunk, two or three joint-stools, and some other lumber, 
which he ties together with cords so fast that it takes him up the same time in the 
morning to release himself.*'. 



STEELE. 247 

truth — iox a magnificent designer and schemer! Not to dare to 
look in the face the Religion which he adored and which he had 
offended: to have to shirk down back lanes and alleys, so as to 
avoid the friend whom he loved and who had trusted him ; to have 
the house which he had intended for his wife, whom he loved 
passionately, and for her ladyship's company which he wished to 
entertain splendidly, in the possession of a bailifi's man ; with a 
crowd of little creditors, — ^grocers, butchers, and small-coal men — 
Imgering roimd the door with their bills and jeering at him. Alas ! 
for poor Dick Steele ! For nobody else, of course. There is no 
man or woman in our time who makes fine projects and gives them 
up firom idleness or want of means. When Duty calls upon us^ we 
no doubt are always at home and ready to pay that grim tax- 
gatherer. A\Tien we are stricken with remorse and promise reform, 
we keep our promise, and are never angry, or idle, or extravagant 
any more. There are no chambers in our hearts, destined for family 
friends and affections, and now occupied by some Sin's emissary and 
bailiff in possession. There are no little sins, shabby peccadilloes, 
importunate remembrances, or disappointed holders of our promises 
to reform, hovering at our steps, or knocking at our door ! Of 
course not We are living in the nineteenth century ; and poor Dick 
Steele stumbled and got up again, and got into jail and out again, 
and sinned and repented, and loved and suffered, and lived and 
died, scores of years ago. Peace be with him ! Let us think gently 
of one who was so gentle : let us speak kindly of one whose own 
breast exuberated with human kindness. 



248 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



PRIOR, GA Y, AND POPE, 

MATTHEW PRIOR was one of those fisunous and lucky wits of 
the auspicious reign of Queen Anne, whose name it behoves 
us not to pass over. Mat was a world-philosopher of no small genius, 
good nature, and acumen. • He loved, he drank, he sang. He 

♦ Gay calls him — ** Dear Prior .... beloved by every muse." — Mr, Pop^s 
Wdconufrom Greece, 

Swift and Prior were very intimate, and he is frequently mentioned in the 
"Journal to Stella." "Mr. Prior," says Swift, "walks to make himself fat, and 
I to keep myself down. .... We often walk round the park together." 

In Swift's works there is a curious tract called " Remarks on the Characters of 
the Court of Queen Anne" [Scott's edition, voL xiL] The ** Remarks" are not 
by the Dean ; but at the end of each is an addition in italics from his hand, and 
these are always characteristic. Thus, to the Duke of Marlborough, he adds, 
" Detestably covetous ^^^ &c Prior is thus noticed — 

"Matthew Prior, Esq., Commissioner of Trade. 
" On the Queen's accession to the throne, he was continued in his office ; is 
very well at court with the ministry, and is an entire creature of my Lord Jersey's, 
whom he supports by his advice ; is one of the best poets in England, but very- 
facetious in conversation. A thin, hollow-looked man, turned of forty years old. 
This is near the truth," 

" Yet counting as far as to fifty his years. 

His virtues and vices were as other men's are. 
High hopes he conceived and he smothered great fears, 
In a life party-coloured — half pleasure, half care. 

" Not to business a drudge, nor to faction a slave. 
He strove to make interest and freedom agree ; 
In public employments industrious and grave, 
And alone with his friends. Lord, how merry was he ! 

" Now in equipage stately, now humble on foot, 

Both fortunes he tried, but to neither would trust ; 
And whirled in the round as the wheel turned about. 

He found riches had wings, and knew man was but dust." 

Prior's Poents, [For my own nu>nument.\ 



PRIOR, GAY, AXDPOPE. 249 

describes himself, in one of his lyrics, " in a littie Dutch chaise on 
a Saturday night ; on his left hand his Horace, and a friend on his 
right," going out of town from the Hague to pass that evening, and 
the ensuing Sunday, boozing at a Spielhaus with his companions, per- 
haps bobbing for perch in a Dutch canal, and noting doT^Ti, in a strain 
and with a grace not unworthy of his Epicurean master, the charms 
of his idleness, his retreat, and his Bata\'ian Chloe. A vintner's son 
in Whitehall, and a distinguished pupil of Busby of the Rod, Prior 
attracted some notice by writing verses at St. John's College, Cam- 
bridge, and, coming up to town, aided Montague • in an attack on 
the noble old English lion John Dryden ; in ridicule of whose work, 
" The Hind and the Panther," he brought out that remarkable and 
famous burlesque, " The Town and Country Mouse." Aren't you all 
acquainted with it ? Have you not all got it by heart ? What ! 
have you never heard of it? See what fame is made of! The 
wonderful part of the satire was, that, as a natural consequence of 
"The Town and Country Mouse," Matthew Prior was made 
Secretary of Embassy at the Hague ! I believe it is dancing, 
rather tlian singing, which distinguishes the young English diploma- 
tists of the present day ; and have seen them in various parts perform 
that part of their duty very finely. In Prior's time it appears a 
different accomplishment led to preferment Could you write a 
copy of Alcaics ? that was the question. Could you turn out a neat 
epigram or two? Could you compose "The Town and Country 
Mouse ? " It is manifest that, by the possession of this faculty, the 
most difficult treaties, the laws of foreign nations, and the interests 
of our own, are easily understood. Prior rose in the diplomatic 
service, and said good things that proved his sense and his spirit. 
When the apartments at Versailles were shown to him, with the 

* ** They joined to produce a parody, entitled the * Town and Country Mouse,' 
part of which Mr. Bayes is supposed to gratify his old friends, Smart and Johnson, 
by repeating to them. The piece is therefore founded upon the twice-told jest of 
the * Rehearsal.* . . . There is nothing new or original in the idea. ... In 
this piece, Prior, though the younger man, seems to have had by far the largest 
share." — Scott's Dryden, vol i. p. 330. 



250 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

victories of Louis XIV. painted on the walls, and Prior was asked 
whether the palace of the King of England had any such decorations, 
"The monuments of my master's actions," Mat said, of William 
whom he cordially revered, "are to be seen everywhere except in 
his own house." Bravo, Mat ! Prior rose to be fiill ambassador at 
Paris,* where he somehow was cheated out of his ambassadorial 
plate ; and in an heroic poem, addressed by him to her late lamented 
Majesty, Queen Anne, Mat makes some magnificent allusions to 
these dishes and spoons, of which Fate had deprived him. All that 
he wants, he says, is her Majesty*s picture ; without that he can't be 
happy. 

** Thee, gracious Anne, thee present I adore : 
Thee, Queen of Peace, if Time and Fate have power 
Higher to raise the glories of thy reign. 
In words sublimer and a nobler strain 
May future bards the mighty theme rehearse. 
Here, Stator Jove, and Phoebus, king of verse. 
The votive tablet I suspend.** 

With that word the poem stops abruptly. The votive tablet is 
suspended for ever, like Mahomet's coffin. News came that the 
Queen was dead. Stator Jove, and Phoebus, king of verse, were left 
there, hovering to this day, over the votive tablet The picture was 
never got, any more than the spoons and dishes : the inspiration 
ceased, the verses were not wanted — the ambassador wasn't wanted. 
Poor Mat was recalled from his embassy, suffered disgrace along with 

♦ " He was to have been in the same commission with the Duke of Shrews- 
bury, but that that nobleman," says Johnson, ** refused to be associated with one 
so meanly bom. Prior therefore continued to act without a title till the Duke*s 
return next year to England, and then he assumed the style and dignity of 
ambassador." 

He had been thinking of slights of this sort when he ^vrote his Epitaph : — 

** Nobles and heralds, by your leave. 

Here lies what once was Matthew Prior, 
The son of Adam and of Eve ; 

Can Bourbon or Nassau claim higher ? *' 

But, in this case, the old prejudice got the better of the old joke. 



PRIOR, GAVy AND POPE. 251 

his patrons, lived under a sort of cloud ever after, and disappeared 
in Essex. When deprived of all his pensions and emoluments, the 
hearty and generous Oxford pensioned him. They played for 
gallant stakes — the bold men of those days — and lived and gave 
splendidly. 

Johnson quotes from Spence a legend, that Prior, after spending 
an evening with Harley, St. John, Pope, and Swift, would go off and 
smoke a pipe with a couple of friends of his, a soldier and his wife, 
in Long Acre. Those who have not read his late Excellency's poems 
should be warned that they smack not a little of the conversation of 
his Long Acre friends. Johnson speaks slightingly of his lyrics ; but 
with due deference to the great Samuel, Prior's seem to me amongst 
the easiest, the richest, the most charmingly humourous of English 
lyrical poems.* Horace is always in his mind ; and his song, and his 

* His epigrams have the genuine sparkle : 

** The Remedy worse than the Disease. 

** I sent for Radcliff ; was so ill, 

That other doctors gave me over : 
He felt my pulse, prescribed a pill, 
And I was likely to recover. 

"But when the wit began to wheeze, 
And wine had warmed the politician. 
Cured yesterday of my disease, 
I died last night of my physician." 



*' Yes, every poet is a fool ; 

By demonstration Ned can show it ; 
Happy could Ned*s inverted rule 
Prove every fool to be a poet." 



** On his death-bed poor Lubin lies. 
His spouse is in despair ; 
With frequent sobs and mutual sighs. 
They both express their care. 

** * A different cause,' says Parson Sly, 
* The same effect may give ; 
Poor Lubin fears that he shall die. 
His wife that he may live.' " 



252 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

philosophy, his good sense, his happy easy turns and melody, his 
loves and his Epicureanism bear a great resemblance to that most 
delightful and accomplished master. 'In reading his works, one is 
struck with their modem air, as well as by their happy similarity to 
the songs of the charming owner of the Sabine farm. In his verses 
addressed to Halifax, he says, writing of that endless theme to poets, 
the vanity of human wishes — 

** So when in fevered dreams we sink, 
And waking, taste what we desire, 
The real draught but feeds the fire, 
The dream is better than the drink. 

** Our hopes like towering falcons aim 
At objects in an airy height : 
To stand aloof and view the flight. 
Is all the pleasure of the game." 

Would not you fancy that a poet of our own days was singing ? 
and in the verses of Chloe weeping and reproaching him for his 
inconstancy, where he says — 

** The God of us versemen, you know, child, the Sun, 
How, after his journey, he sets up his rest. 
If at morning o^er earth 'tis his fancy to nm, 
At night he declines on his Thetis's breast. 

** So, when I am wearied with wandering all day. 
To thee, my delight, in the evening I come : 
No matter what beauties I saw in my way ; 
They were but my visits, but thou art my home ! 

** Then finish, dear Chloe, this pastoral war, 
And let us like Horace and Lydia agree : 
For thou art a girl as much brighter than her, 
As he was a poet sublimer than me. " 

If Prior read Horace, did not Thomas Moore study Prior? 
Love and pleasure find singers in all days. Roses are always 
blowing and fading — to-day as in that pretty time when Prior sang of 
them, and of Chloe lamenting their decay — 

** She sighed, she smiled, and to the flowers 
Pointing, the lovely moralist said : 
See, friend, in some few leisure hours. 
See yonder what a change is made ! 




PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 253 

** Ah me 1 the blooming pride of May 
And that of Beauty are but one : 
At mom both flourisht, bright and gay, 

# Both fade at evening, pale and gone. 

** At dawn poor Stella danced and sung, 
The amorous youth around her bowed : 
At night her fatal knell was rung ; 
I saw, and kissed her in her shroud. 

** Such as she is who died to-day. 
Such I, alas, may be to-morrow : 
Go, Damon, bid the Muse display 
The justice of thy Chloe's sorrow." 

Damon's knell was rung in 1721. May his turf lie lightly on 
him ! Deus sit propitius huic potatori^ as Walter de Mapes sang.* 

♦ *' Prior to Sir Thomas Hanmer. 

"Dear Sir, — *^ Aug. 4, 1709. 

"Friendship may live, I grant you, without being fed and cherished by 
correspondence; but with that additional benefit I am of opinion it will look 
more cheerful and thrive better: for in this case, as in love, though a man is sure 
of his own constancy, yet his happiness depends a good deal upon the senti- 
ments of another, and while you and Chloe are alive, *tis not enough that I 
love you both, except I am sure you both love me again ; and as one of her scrawls 
fortifies my mind more against affliction than all Epictetus, with Simplicius's com- 
ments into the bargain, so your single letter gave me more real pleasure than all 

the works of Plato I must return my answer to your very kind question 

concerning my health. The Bath waters have done a good deal towards the 
recovery of it, and the great specific. Cape caballumf will, I think, confirm it. 
Upon this head I must tell you that my mare Betty grows blind, and may one 
day, by breaking my neck, perfect my cure : if at Rixham fair any pretty nagg 
that is between thirteen and fourteen hands presented himself, and you would be 
pleased to purchase him for me, one of your servants might ride him to Euston, 
and I might receive him there. This, sir, is just as such a thing happens. If you 
hear, too, of a Welch widow, with a good jointure, that has her goings and is not 
very skittish, pray, be pleased to cast your eye on her for me too. You see, sir, 
the great trust I repose in your skill and honour, when I dare put two such com- 
missions in your hand " — The Hanmer Correspondence, p. 120. 

"From Mr. Prior. 
"My dear Lord and Friend, — ** Paris, ist^iith May, 1714. 

" Matthew never had so great occasion to write a word to Henry as now: 
it is noised here that I am soon to return. The question that I wish I could 
answer to the many that ask, and to our friend Colbert de Torcy (to whom I made 
your compliments in the manner you commanded) is, what is done for me ; and to 



254 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

Perhaps Samuel Johnson, who spoke slightingly of Prior's verses, 
enjoyed them more than he was willing to own. The old moralist 

what I am recalled ? It may look like a bagatelle, what is to become of a 
philosopher like me ? but it is not such : what is to become of a person who had 
the honour to be chosen, and sent hither as intrusted, in the midst of a war, with 
what the Queen designed should make the peace; returning with the Lord Boling- 
broke, one of the greatest men in England, and one of the finest heads in Europe 
(as they say here, if true or not, nUmporU); having been left by him in the greatest 
character (that of Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary), exercising that power conjointly 
with the Duke of Shrewsbury, and solely after his departure ; having here received 
more distinguished honour than any Minister, except an Ambassador, ever did, 
and some which were never given to any but who had that character; having 
had all the success that could be expected ; having (God be thanked ! ) spared 
no pains, at a time when at home the peace is voted safe and honourable — at 
a time when the Earl of Oxford is Lord Treasurer and Lord Bolingbroke First 
Secretary of State ? This unfortunate person, I say, neglected, forgot, unnamed 
to anything that may speak the Queen satisfied with his services, or his friends 
concerned as to his fortune. 

** Mr. de Torcy put me quite out of countenance, the other day, by a pity that 
wounded me deeper than ever did the cruelty of the late Lord Godolphin. He 
said he would write to Robin and Harry about me. God forbid, my lord, that 
I should need any foreign intercession, or owe the least to any Frenchman 
living, besides the decency of behaviour and the returns of common civility: 
some say T am to go to Baden, others that I am to be added to the Com- 
missioners for settling the commerce. In all cases I am ready, but in the mean- 
time, die aliquid de tribits capellia. Neither of these two are, I presume, honours 
or rewards, neither of them (let me say to my dear Lord Bolingbroke, and let 
him not be angry with me, ) are what Drift may aspire to, and what Mr. Whit- 
worth, who was his fellow-clerk, has or may possess. I am far from desiring 
to lessen the great merit of the gentleman I named, for I heartily esteem and 
love him ; but in this trade of ours, my lord, in which you are the general, as 
in that of the soldiery, there is a certain right acquired by time and long service. 
You would do anything for your Queen's service, but you would not be contented 
to descend, and be degraded to a charge, no way proportioned to that of Secretary 
of State, any more than Mr. Ross, though he would charge a party with a 
halbard in his hand, would be content all his life after to be Serjeant. Was 
my Lord Dartmouth, from Secretary, returned again to be Commissioner of 
Trade, or from Secretary of War, would Frank Guyn think himself kindly used 
to be returned again to be Commissioner ? In short, my lord, you have put me 
above myself, and if I am to return to myself, I shall return to something very 
discontented and uneasy. I am sure, my lord, you will make the best use you can 
of this hint for my good. If I am to have anything, it will certainly be for 
Her Majesty's service, and the credit of my friends in the Ministry, that it be 




PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE, 255 

had studied them as well as Mr. Thomas Moore, and defended them, 
and showed that he remembered them very well too, on an occasion 
when their morality was called in question by that noted puritan, 
James Boswell, Esq., of Auchinleck.* 

In the great society of the wits, John Gay deserved to be a 
favourite, and to have a good place, f In his set all were fond of 

done before I am recalled from home, lest the world may think either that I 
have merited to be disgraced, or that ye dare not stand by me. If nothing is 
to be done, fiat voluntas Dei, I have writ to Lord Treasurer upon this subject, 
and having implored your kind intercession, I promise you it is the last remon- 
strance of this kind that I will ever make. Adieu, my lord; all honour, health, 
and pleasure to you. ** Yours ever, Matt." 

** P.S. — Lady Jersey is just gone from me. We drank your healths together in 
usquebaugh after our tea : we are the greatest friends alive. Once more adieu. 
There is no such thing as the * Book of Travels * you mentioned ; if there be, let 
friend Tilson send us more particular account of them, for neither I nor Jacob 
Tonson can find them. Pray send Barton back to me, I hope with some comfort- 
able tidings. *' — Bolingbroke^s Letters, 

♦ "I asked whether Prior's poems were to be printed entire; Johnson said they 
were. I mentioned Lord Hales' censure of Prior in his preface to a collection of 
sacred poems, by various hands, published by him at Edinburgh a great many 
years ago, where he mentions 'these impure tales, which will be the eternal 
opprobrium of their ingenious author.' JOHNSON : *Sir, Lord Hales has forgot. 
There is nothing in Prior that will excite to lewdness. If Lord Hales thinks there 
is, he must be more combustible than other people.' I instanced the tale of 

* Paulo Purganti and his wife.' Johnson: *Sir, there is nothing there but that 
his wife wanted to be kissed, when poor Paulo was out of pocket. No, sir, 
Prior is a lady's book. No lady is ashamed to have it standing in her library. " — 
Bos well's Life of Johnson, 

t Gay was of an old Devonshire family, but his pecuniary prospects not being 
great, was placed in his youth in the house of a silk-mercer in London. He was 
bom in i688 — Pope's year, and in 1712 the Duchess of Monmouth made him her 
secretary. Next year he published his ** Rural Sports," which he dedicated to 
Pope, and so made an acquaintance, which became a memorable friendship. 

" Gay," says Pope, ** was quite a natural man, — wholly without art or design, 
and spoke just what he thought and as he thought it. He dangled for twenty 
years about a court, and at last was offered to be made usher to the young princess. 
Secretary Craggs made Gay a present of stock in the South Sea year ; and he was 
once worth 20,000/., but lost it all again. He got about 500/. by the first 

* Beggar's Opera,' and 1,100/. or 1,200/. by the second. He was negligent and 
a bad manager. Latterly, the Duke of Queensbcrry took his money into his 



256 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

him. His success offended nobody. He missed a fortune once or 
twice. He was talked of for court favour, and hoped to win it ; but 
the court favour jilted him. Craggs gave him some South Sea Stock ; 
and at one time Gay had very nearly made his fortune. But Fortune 
shook her swift wings and jilted him too : and so his friends, instead 
of being angry with him, and jealous of him, were kind and fond of 
honest Gay. In the portraits of the literary worthies of the early 
part of the last century, Gay*s face is the pleasantest perhaps of all. 
It appears adorned with neither periwig nor nightcap (the full dress 
and negligee of learning, without which the painters of those days 
scarcely ever pourtrayed wits), and he laughs at you over his shoulder 
with an honest boyish glee — an artless sweet humour. He was so 
kind, so gentle, so jocular, so delightfully brisk at times, so dismally 
wobegone at others, such a natural good creature that the Giants 
loved him. The great Swift was gentle and sportive with him,* as 
the enormous Brobdingnag maids of honour were with little Gulliver. 
He could frisk and fondle round Pope,t and sport, and bark, and 

keeping, and let him only have what was necessary out of it, and, as he lived with 
them, he could not have occasion for much. He died worth upwards of 3,000/." 
— Pope. Spencers AuecdoUs. 

* *' Mr. Gay is, in all regards, as honest and sincere a man as ever I knew." — 
Swift, To Lady Betty Geimaine, Jan. 1733. 

f ** Of manners gentle, of affections mild ; 
In wit a man ; simplicity, a child ; 
With native humour temp'ring virtuous rage, 
Form*d to delight at once and lash the age ; 
Above temptation in a low estate. 
And uncorrupted e'en among the great : 
A safe companion, and an easy friend, 
Unblamed through life, lamented in the end. 
These are thy honours ; not that here thy bust 
Is mixed with heroes, or with kings thy dust ; 
But that the worthy and the good shall say. 
Striking their pensive bosoms, * Here lies Gay.* " 

Pope's Epitaph on Gay, 
** A hare w^ho, in a civil way. 
Complied with everything, like Gay." 

Fables^ ** The Hare and many Frien.Uy 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 257 

caper, without offending the most thin-skinned of poets and men ; 
and when he was jilted in that little court affair of which we have 
spoken, his warm-hearted patrons the Duke and Duchess of Queens- 
berry* (the "Kitty, beautiful and young," of Prior,) pleaded his 
cause with indignation, and quitted the court in a huff, carrying 

♦ ** I can give you no account of Gay," says Pope, curiously, " since he 
was raffled for, and won back by his Duchess." — IVorks^ Roscois Ed,, vol. ix. 
p. 392. 

Here is the letter Pope wrote to him when the death of Queen Anne brought 
back Lord Clarendon from Hanover, and lost him the Secretaryship of that noble- 
man, of which he had had but a short tenure. 

Gay's court prospects were never happy from this time. — His dedication of the 
** Shepherd's Week " to Bolingbroke, Swift used to call the ** original sin " which 
had hurt him with the house of Hanover :— 

**Dear Mr. Gay,— .Se/t. 23, 1714. 

** Welcome to your native soil ! welcome to your friends ! thrice welcome 
to me ! whether returned in glory, blest with court interest, the love and familiarity 
of the great, and filled with agreeable hopes ; or melancholy with dejection, 
contemplative of the changes of fortune, and doubtful for the future ; whether 
returned a triumphant Whig or a desponding Tory, equally all hail ! equally 
beloved and welcome to me*! If happy, I am to partake of your elevation ; if 
unhappy, you have still a warm comer in my heart, and a retreat at Benfield 
in the worst of times at your service. If you are a Tory, or thought so by any 
man, I know it can proceed from nothing but your gratitude to a few people 
who endeavoured to serve you, and whose politics were never your concern. If 
you are a Whig, as I rather hope, and as I think your principles and mine (as 
brother poets) had ever a bias to the side of liberty, I know you will be an honest 
man and an inoffensive one. Upon the whole, I know you are incapable of being so 
much of either party as to be good for nothing. Therefore, once more, whatever 
you are or in whatever state you are, all hail ! • 

" One or two of your own friends complained they had nothing from you since 
the Queen's death ; I told them no man living loved Mr. Gay better than I, yet 
I had not once written to him in all his voyage. This I thought a convincing 
proof, but truly one may be a friend to another without telling him so every month. 
But they had reasons, too, themselves to allege in your excuse, as men who really 
value one another will never want such as make their friends and themselves easy. 
The late universal concern in public affairs threw us all into a hurry of spirits : even 
I, who am more a philosopher than to expect anything from any reign, was borne 
away with the current, and full of the expectation of the successor. During your 
journeys, I knew not whither to aim a letter after you ; that was a sort of shooting 
flying : add to this the demand Homer had upon me, to write fifty verses a day, 

17 



258 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

off with them into their retirement their kind gentle prot^g^. 
With these ' kind lordly folks, a real Duke and Duchess, as 
delightful as those who harboured Don Quixote, and loved that 
dear old Sancho, Gay lived, and was lapped in cotton, and had 
his plate of chicken, and his saucer of cream, and frisked, and 
barked, and wheezed, and grew fat, and so ended.* He became 
very melancholy and lazy, sadly plethoric, and only occasionally 
diverting in his latter days. But everybody loved him, and the 
remembrance of his pretty little tricks ; and the raging old Dean 
of St Patrick's, chafing in his banishment, was afraid to open the 

besides learned notes, all of which are at a conclusion for this year. Rejoice with 
me, O my friend ! that my labour is over ; come and make merry with me in much 
feasting. We will feed among the lilies (by the lilies I mean the ladies). Are 
not the Rosalindas of Britain as charming as the Blousalindas of the Hague ? or 
have the two great Pastoral poets of our own nation renounced love at the same 
time ? for Phillips, unnatural Phillips, hath deserted it, yea, and in a rustic manner 
kicked his Rosalind. Dr. Pamell and I have been inseparable ever since you 
went We are now at the Bath, where (if you are not, as I heartily hope, 
better engaged) your company would be the greatest pleasure to us in the world. 
Talk not of expenses : Homer shall support his children. I beg a line from 
you, directed to the Post-house in Bath. Poor Pamell is in an ill state of 
health. • 

** Pardon me if I add a word of advice in the poetical way. Write something 
on the King, or Prince, or Princess. On whatsoever foot you may be with the 
court, this can do no harm. I shall never know where to end, and am confounded 
in the many things I have to say to you, though they all amount but to this, that 
I am, entirely, as ever, 

" Your," &c 

Gay took the advice ** in the poetical way," and published ** An Epistle to a 
Lady, occasioned by the arrival of her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales." 
But though this brought him access to court, and the attendance of the Prince 
and Princess at his farce of the ** What d'ye call it?" it did not tring him a 
place. On the accession of George II., he was offered the situation of Gentleman 
Usher to the Princess Louisa (her Highness being then two years old) ; but **by 
this offer," says Johnson, ** he thought himself insulted." 

♦ **Gay was a great eater. ^As the French philosopher used to prove his 
existence by Cogito^ ergo sum^ the greatest proof of Gay's existence is, Editf ergo 
est,'* — CoNGREVE, in a Letter to Pope, Spends Anecdotes, 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE, 259 

letter which Pope wrote him, announcing the sad news of the death 
of Gay.* 

Swift's letters to him are beautiful; and having no purpose but 
kindness in writing to him, no party aim to advocate, or slight or 
anger to wreak, every word the Dean says to his favourite is natural, 
trustworthy, and kindly. His admiration for Gay's parts and honesty, 
and his laughter at his weaknesses, were alike just and genuine. He 
paints his character in wonderful pleasant traits of jocular satire. " I 
writ lately to Mr. Pope," Swift says, writing to Gay : " I wish you 
had a little villakin in his neighbourhood; but you are yet too 
volatile, and any lady with a coach and six horses would carry you to 
Japan." " If your ramble," says Swift, in another letter, " was on 
horseback, I am glad of it, on account of your health ; but I know 
your arts of packing up a journey between stage<:oaches and friends* 
coaches — for you are as arrant a cockney as any hosier in Cheapside.. 
I have often had it in my head to put it into yours, that you ought to 
have some great work in scheme, which may take up seven years to 
finish, besides two or three under-ones that may add another thousand 
pounds to your stock, and then I shall be in less pain about you. I 
know you can find dinners, but you love twelvepenny coaches too 
well, without considering that the interest of a whole thousand 
pounds brings you but half-a-crown a day." And then Swift goes off 

* Swift endorsed the letter — ** On my dear friend Mr. Gay's death ; received 
Dec. 15, but not read till the 20th, by an impulse foreboding some misfortune." 

" It was by Swift's interest that Gay was made known to Lord Bolingbroke,, 
and obtained his patronage." — Scott's Swifts vol. i. p. 156. 

Pope wrote on the occasion of Gay's death, to Swift, thus :— 

"[/?«:. 5, 1732.] 
". . . . One of the dearest and longest ties I have ever had is broken all 
on a sudden by the unfortunate death of poor Mr. Gay. An inflammatory fever 
carried him out of this life in three days. .... He asked of you a few hours 
before when in acute torment by the inflammation in his bowels and breast .... 
His sisters, we suppose, will be his heirs, who are two widows. .... Good 
God ! how often are we to die before we go quite off" this stage ? In every friend 
we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part God keep those we have left I few 
are worth praying for, and one's self the least of alL" 



26o ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

from Gay to pay some grand compliments to her Grace the Duchess 
of Queensberry, in whose sunshine Mr. Gay was basking, and in 
whose radiance the Dean would have liked to warm himself too. 

But we have Gay here before us, in these letters — lazy, kindly, 
uncommonly idle ; rather slovenly, I'm afraid ; for ever eating and 
saying good things ; a litde round French abbd of a man, sleek, 
sofr-handedy and soft-hearted. 

Our object in these lectures is rather to describe the men than 
their works ; or to deal with the latter only in as far as they seem to 
illustrate the character of their writers. Mr. Gay's " Fables," which 
were written to benefit that amiable Prince, the Duke of Cumberland, 
the warrior of Dettingen and Culloden, I have not, I own, been able 
to peruse since a period of very early youth ; and it must be con- 
fessed that they did not effect much benefit upon the illustrious 
young Prince, whose manners they were intended to mollify, and 
whose natural ferocity our gentle-hearted Satirist perhaps proposed 
to restrain. But the six pastorals called the " Shepherd's Week," and 
the burlesque poem of " Trivia," any man fond of lazy literature will 
find delightful at the present day, and must read from beginning to 
end with pleasure. They are to poetry what charming little Dresden 
china figures are to sculpture : graceful, minikin, fantastic ; with a 
certain beauty always accompanying them. The pretty little per- 
sonages of the pastoral, with gold clocks to their stockings, and fresh 
satin ribbons to their crooks and waistcoats and bodices, dance their 
loves to a minuet-tune played on a bird-organ, approach the charmer, 
or rush from the false one daintily on their red-heeled tip-toes, and 
die of despair or rapture, with the most pathetic little grins and ogles ; 
or repose, simpering at each other, under an arbour of pea-green 
crockery ; or piping to pretty flocks that have just been washed with 
the best Naples in a stream of Bergamot. Gay's gay plan seems to 
me far pleasanter than that of Phillips — ^his rival and Pope's — a 
serious and dreary idyllic cockney ; not that Gay's " Bumkinets " and 
" Hobnelias " are a whit more natural than the would-be serious 
characters of the other posture-master; but the quality of this true 



PRIONy GAV, AND POPE. 261 

humourist was to laugh and make laugh, though always with a secret 
kindness and tenderness, to perfonn the drollest little antics and 
capers, but always with a certain grace, and to sweet music — as you 
may have seen a Savoyard boy abroad, with a hurdy-gurdy and a 
monkey, turning over head and heels, or clattering and pirouetting in 
a pair of wooden shoes, yet always with a look of love and appeal 
in his bright eyes, and a smile that asks and wins affection and pro- 
tection. Happy they who have that sweet gift of nature ! It was 
this which made the great folks and court ladies free and friendly 
with John Gay — which, made Pope and Arbuthnot love him — ^which 
melted the savage heart of Swift when he thought of him — and drove 
away, for a moment or two, the dark frenzies which obscured the 
lonely tyrant's brain, as he heard Gay's voice with its simple melody 
and artless ringing laughter. 

What used to be said about Rubini,'^^'// avait des larmes dans la 
7'oix, may be said of Gay,* and of one other humourist of whom we 
shall have to speak. In almost every ballad of his, however slight,t 

• ** Gay, like Goldsmith, had a musical talent * He could play on the flute,' 
says Malone, * and was, therefore, enabled to adapt so happily some of the airs in 
the " Beggar's Opera." ' ''—Notes to Spence. 

\ ** *Twas when the seas were roaring 

With hollow blasts of wind, 
A damsel lay deploring 

All on a rock reclined. 
Wide o*er the foaming billows 

She cast a wistful look ; 
Her head was crown'd with willows 

That trembled o'er the brook. 

** * Twelve months are gone and over. 

And nine long tedious days ; 
Why didst thou, venturous lover — 

Why didst thou trust the seas ? 
Cease, cease, thou cruel Ocean, 

And let my lover rest ; 
Ah ! what's thy troubled motion 

To tliat within my breast ? 



362 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

in the " Bigot's Opera " * and in its wearisome continuation (where 
the verses, are to the full as pretty as in the first piece, however), 
there is a peculiar, hinted, pathetic sweetness and melody. It 



«« 



(< 



* The merchant, robb'd of pleasure. 
Sees tempests in despair ; 

But what's the loss of treasure 

To losing of my dear ? 
Should you some coast be laid on, 

Where gold and diamonds grow, 
You*d find a richer maiden, 

But none that loves you so. 

* How can they say that Nature 

Has nothing made in vain ; 
Why, then, beneath the water 

Should hideous rocks remain ? 
No eyes the rocks discover 

That lurk beneath the deep, 
To wreck the wandering lover, 

And leave the maid to weep ? * 

** All melancholy lying, 

Thus wailed she for her dear ; 
Repay*d each blast with sighing, 

Each billow with a tear ; 
When o'er the white wave stooping, 

His floating corpse she spy'd ; 
Then like a lily drooping, 

She how'd her head, and died." 

—A Ballad from the " What (fye call it t " 
"What can be prettier than Gay's ballad, or, rather. Swift's, Arbulhnot's, 
Pope's and Gay's, in the * What d'ye call it ? ' * 'Twas when the seas were roaring ? ' 
I have been well informed that they all contributed." — Cowpcr to Ununn^ 1783. 

♦ ** Dr. Swift had been observing once to Mr. Gay, what an odd pretty sort 
of thing a Newgate Pastoral might make. Gay was inclined to try at such a thing 
for some time, but afterwards thought it would be better to write a comedy on 
the same plan. This was what gave rise to the * Beggar's Opera. ' He began on 
it, and when he first mentioned it to Swift, the Doctor did not much like the 
project. As he carried it on, he showed what he wrote to both of us ; and we 
now and then gave a correction, or a word or two of advice ; but it was wholly of 
his own writing. When it was done, neither of us thought it would succeed. 
We showed it to Congreve, who, after reading it over, said, * It would either take 
greatly, or be damned confoundedly.' We were all at the first night of it, in great 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE, 263 

channs and melts you. It's indefinable, but it exists ; and is the 
property of John Gay's and Oliver Goldsmith's best verse, as fragrance 
is of a violet, or freshness of a rose. 

Let me read a piece from one of his letters, which is so famotls 
that most people here are no doubt familiar with it, but so delightful 
that it is always pleasant to hear : — 

** I have just passed part of this summer at an old romantic seat of my Lord 
Harcourt's which he lent me. It overlooks a common hayfield, where, under the 
shade of a haycock, sat two lovers — as constant as ever were found in romance — 
beneath a spreading bush. The name of the one (let it sound as it will) was John 
Hewet ; of the other Sarah Drew. John was a well-set man, about five and 
twenty ; Sarah a brave woman of eighteen. John had for several months borne 
the labour of the day in the same field with Sarah ; when she milked, it was his 
morning and evening charge to bring the cows to her pails. Their love was the 
talk, but not the scandal, of the whole neighbourhood, for all they aimed at was 
the blameless possession of each other in marriage. It was but this very momfaig 
that he had obtained her parents* consent, and it was but till the next week that 
they were to wait to be happy. PeAaps this very day, in the intervals of their 
work, they were talking of their wedding-clothes ; and John was now matching 
several kinds of poppies and field-flowers, to make her a present of knots for the 
day. While they were thus employed (it was on the last of July), a terrible 
storm of thunder and lightning arose, that drove the labourers to what shelter the 
trees or hedges afforded. Sarah, frightened and out of breath, sunk on a 
haycock ; and John (who never separated from her, sat by her side, having raked 
two or three heaps together, to secure her. Immediately thA-e was heard so loiid 
a crash, as if heaven had burst asunder. The labourers, all solicitous for each 
other's safety, called to one another : those that were nearest our lovers, hearing no 
answer, stepped to the place where they lay : they first saw a little smoke, and 
after, this faithful pair — John, with one arm about his Sarah's neck, and the other 
held over her face, as if to screen her from the lightning. They were struck dead, 
and already grown* stiff and cold in this tender posture. There was no mark or 
discolouring on their bodies — only that Sarah's eyebrow was a little singed, and a 
small spot between her breasts. They were buried the next day in one grave." 



uncertainty of the event, till we were very much encouraged by overhearing the Duke 
of Argyle, who sat in the next box to us, say, * It will do — it must do ! — I see it in 
the eyes of them ! ' This was a good while before the first act was over, and so gave 
us ease soon ; for the Duke [besides his own good taste] has a more partictilar 
research than any one now living in discovering the taste of the public He was 
quite right in this as usual ; the good nature of the audience api>eared stronger 
and stronger every act, and ended in a clamour of applause. "^POPE. Spends 
Anecdotes, 



26* EyCUSH HUMOURISTS. 

And the proof that this description is delightful and beautiful is, 
that the great l^ir. Pope admired it so much that he thought proper 
to steal it and to send it off to a certain lady and wit, with whom he 
pretended to be in love in those da3rs — ^my Lord Duke of Kingston's 
daughter, and married to l^ir. Wortley Montagu, then his Majesty's 
Ambassador at Constantinople. 

We are now come to the greatest name on our list — ^the highest 
among the poets, the highest among the English ^nts and humourists 
with whom we have to rank him. If the author of the " Dunciad " 
be not a humourist, if the poet of the " Rape of the Lock " be not a 
wit, who deserves to be called so? Besides that brilliant genius and 
immense ^une, for both of which we should respect him, men of letters 
should admire him as being the greatest literarj' artist that England 
has seen. He polished, he refined, he thought ; he took thoughts from 
other works to adorn and complete his own ; borrowing an idea or a 
cadence from another poet as he would a figure or a simile from a 
flower, or a river, stream, or any object which struck him in his walk, 
or contemplation of Nature. He began to imitate at an early age ; • 
and taught himself to write by copying printed books. Then he passed 

• " Waller, Spenser, and Dryden were Mr. Pope's great favourites, in the 
order they are named, in his first reading, till he was about twelve years old." — 
Pope. Spends Anecdotes, 

** Mr. Pope's lather (who was an honest merchant, and dealt in Hollands, 
wholesale) was no poet, but he used to set him to make English verses when very 
young. He was pretty difficult in being pleased ; and used often to send him back 
to new turn them. * These are not good rhimes ; * for that was my husband's word 
for verses." — Pope's Mother. Spence, • 

" I wrote things, I'm ashamed to say how soon. Part of an Epic Poem when 
about twelve. The scene of it lay at Rhodes and some of the neighbouring 
islands ; and the poem opened under water with a description of the Court of 
Neptune."— Pope. Ibid, 

" His perpetual application (after he set to study of himself) reduced him in 
four years* time to so bad a state of health, that, after trying physicians for a good 
while in vain, he resolved to give way to his distemper ; and sat down calmly in a. 
full expectation of death in a short time. Under tliis thought, he ^Tote letters to 
take a last farewell of some of his more particular friends, and, among the rest„ 
one to the Abb^ Southcote. The Abbe was extremely concerned, both for his 



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266 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

very likely looking out for that charmer. " They were the happiest 
days of his life," he says, when he was only dreaming of his fame : 
when he had gained that mistress she was no consoler. 

That charmer made her appearance, it would seem, about the 
year 1705, when Pope was seventeen. Letters of his are extant, 

addressed to a certain Lady M , whom the youth courted, and 

to whom he expressed his ardour in language, to say no worse of it, 
that is entirely pert, odious, and affected. He imitated love-com- 
positions as he had been imitating love-poems just before — it was a 
sham mistress he courted, and a sham passion, expressed as became 
it. These unlucky letters found their way into print years afterwards, 
and were sold to the congenial Mr. Curll. If any of my hearers, as 
I hope they may, should take a fancy to look at Pope's corre- 
spondence, let them pass over that first part of it ; over, perhaps, 
almost all Pope's letters to women ; in which there is a tone of not 
pleasant gallantry, and, amidst a profusion of compliments and 
politenesses, a something which makes one distrust the little pert, 
prurient bard. There is very little indeed to say about his loves, 
and that little not edifying. He wrote flames and raptures and 
elaborate verse and prose for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ; but that 
passion probably came to a climax in an impertinence and was 
. extinguished by a box on the ear, or some such rebuff, and he began 
on a sudden to hate her with a fervour much more genuine than that 
of his love had been. It was a feeble, puny grimace of love, and 
paltering with passion. After Mr. Pope had sent off one of his fine 
compositions to Lady Mary, he made a second draft from the rough 
copy, and favoured some other friend with it. He was so charmed 
with the letter of Gay's that I have just quoted, that he had copied 
that and amended it, and sent it to Lady Mary as his own. A 
gentleman who writes letters d deuxfins^ and after having poured out 
his heart to the beloved, serves up the same dish rechauffe to a friend, 
is not very much in earnest about his loves, however much he may 
be in his piques and vanities when his impertinence gets its due. 

But, save that unlucky part of the " Pope Correspondence," I do 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE, 267 

not know, in the range of our literature, volumes more delightful.* 
You live in them in the finest company in the world. A little stately, 
perhaps; a little apprite and conscious that they are speaking to 
whole generations who are listening ; but in the tone of their voices 

• **Mr. Pope to the Rev. Mr. Broom, Pulham, Norfolk. 

"Dear Sir, — Aug. 29//^, 1730. 

**I INTENDED to write lo you on this melancholy subject, the death of 
Mr. Fenton, before yours came, but stayed to have informed myself and you of the 
circumstances of iL All I hear is, that he felt a gradual decay, though so early in 
life, and was declining for five or six months. It was not, as I apprehended, the 
gout in his stomach, but, I believe, rather a complication first of gross humours, 
as he was naturally corpulent, not discharging themselves, as he used no sort of 
exercise. No man better bore the approaches of his dissolution (as I am told), or 
with less ostentation yielded up his being. The great modesty \yhich you know 
was natural to him, and the great contempt he had for all sorts of vanity and 
parade, never appeared more than in his last moments : he had a conscious satis* 
faction (no doubt) in acting right, in feeling himself honest, true, and unpretending 
to more than his own. So he died as he lived, with that secret, yet sufhcient 
contentment 

''As to any papers left behind him, I dare say they can be but few ; for this 
reason, he never wrote out of vanity, or thought much of the applause of men. I 
know an instance when he did his utmost to conceal his own merit that way ; and if 
we join to this his natural love of ease, I fancy we must exj>cct little of this sorti at 
least, I have heard of none, except some few further remarks on Waller (which his 
cautious int^rity made him leave an order to be given to Mr. Tonson), and perhaps, 
though it is many years since I saw it, a translation of the first book of ' Oppian.' 
He had begun a tragedy of * Dion,* but made small progress in it. 

** As to his other affairs, he died poor but honest, leaving no debts or legacies, 
except of a few pounds to Mr. Trumball and my lady, in token of respect, grate- 
fulness, and mutual esteem. 

** I shall with pleasure take upon me to draw this amiable, quiet, deserving, 
unpretending. Christian, unphilosophical character in his epitaph. There truth 
may be spoken in a few words ; as for flourish, and oratory, and poetry, I leave 
them to younger and more lively writers, such as love writing for writing's sake, 
and would rather show their own fine parts than report the valuable ones of any 
other man. So the elegy I renounce. 

*' I condole with you from my heart on the loss of so worthy a man, and a friend 
to us both 

** Adieu; let us love his memory and profit by his example. Am very 
sincerely, dear sir. Your affectionate and real servant," 

[**TOTHE 




268 ENGLISH HUMO URISTS. 

— pitched, as no doubt they are, beyond the mere conversation key 
— in the expression of their thoughts, their various views and natures, 
there is something generous, and cheering, and ennobling. You are 
in the society of men who have filled the greatest parts in the world's 

«*To THE Eari. of Burlington. 
"My Lord, August, 1 714. 

** If your mare could speak she would give you an account of what extra- 
ordinary company she had on the road, which, since she cannot do, I will. 

** It was the enterprising Mr. IJntot, the redoubtable rival of Mr. Tonson, who, 
mounted on a stone-horse, overtook me in Windsor Forest. He said he heard I 
designed for Oxford, the seat of the Muses, and would, as my bookseller, by all 
means accompany me thither. 

" I asked him where he got his horse? He answered he got it of his publisher; 
* for that rogue, my printer ' said he, * disappointed me. I hoped to put him in 
good humour by a treat at the tavern of a brown fricassee of rabbits, which cost 
ten shillings, with two quarts of wine, besides my conversation. I thought myself 
cock-sure' of his horse, which he readily promised me, but said that Mr. Tonsou 
had just such another design of going to Cambridge, expecting there the copy of a 

new kind of Horace from Dr. ; and if Mr. Tonson went, he was pre-engaged 

to attend him, being to have the printing of the said copy. So, in short, I 
borrowed this stone-horse of my publisher, which he had of Mr. Oldmixon for a 
debt. He lent me, too, the pretty boy you see after me. He was a smutty dog 
yesterday, and cost me more than two hours to wash the ink off his face ; but the 
devil is a fair-conditioned devil, and very forward in his catechism. If you have 
any more bags he shall carry them.* 

"I thought Mr. Lintot's civility not to be neglected, so gave the boy a small 
bag containing three shirts and an Elzevir Virgil, and, mounting in an instant, 
proceeded on the road, with my man before, my courteous stationer beside, and the 
aforesaid devil behind. 

** Mr. Lintot b^an in this manner : * Now, damn them ! What if they should 
put it into the newspaper how you and I went together to Oxford ? What would 
I care ? If I should go down into Sussex they would say I was gone to the Speaker; 
but what of that ? If my son were but big enough to go on with the business, by 
G — d, I would keep as good company as old Jacob.* 

** Hereupon, I inquired of his son. 'The lad' says he, *has fine parts, but is 
somewhat sickly, much as you are. I spare for nothing in his education at West- 
minster. Pray, don't you think Westminster to be the best school in England ? 
Most of the late Ministry came out of it ; so did many of this Ministry. I hope 
the boy will make his fortune.* 

" * Don't you design to let him pass a year at Oxford ? * * To what purpose? * 
said he. ' The Universities do but make pedants, and I intend to breed him a man 
of business.' [**As 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE, 269 

story — you are with St. John the statesman; Peterborough the 
conqueror; Swift, the greatest wit of all times; Gay, the kindliest 
laugher — it is a privilege to sit in that company. Delightful and 
generous banquet ! with a little faith and a little fancy any one of us 

** As Mr. Lintot was talking I observed he sat uneasy on his saddle, for which I 
expressed some solicitude. * Nothing' says he. * I can bear it well enough ; but, 
since we have the day before us, methinks it would be very pleasant for you to rest 
awhile under the woods. * When we were alighted, * See, here, what a mighty 
pretty Horace I have in my pocket ? What, if you amused yourself in turning an 
ode till we mount again ? Lord I if you pleased, what a clever miscellany might 
you make at leisure hours ? * * Perhaps I may,* said I, * if we ride on : the motion 
is an aid to my fancy ; a round trot very much awakens my spirits ; then jog on 
apace, and Til think as hard as I can.' 

** Silence ensued for a full hour ; after which Mr. Lintot lugged the reins, 
stopped short, and broke out, * Well, sir, how far have you gone ? ' I answered, 
seven miles. *Z — ds, sir,' said Lintot, *I thought you had done seven stanzas. 
Oldsworth, in a ramble round Wimbledon Hill, would translate a whole ode in half 
this time. I'll say that for Oldsworth [though I lost by his Timothy's], he translates 
an ode of Horace the quickest of any man in England. I remember Dr. King 
would write verses in a tavern, three hours after he could not speak : and there is 
Sir Richard, in that rumbling old chariot of his, between Fleet Ditch and St. Giles's 
Pound, shall make you half a Job. ' 

** * Pray, Mr. Lintot,' said I, * now you talk of translators, what is your method 
of managing them ?* * Sir,' replied he, 'these are the saddest pack of rogues in 
the world : in a hungry fit, they'll swear they understand all the languages in the 
universe. I have known one of them take dovm a Greek book upon my counter 
and cry, ** Ah, this is Hebrew, and must read it from the latter end." By G— d, 
I can never be sure in these fellows, for I neither understand Greek, Latin, French, 
nor Italian myself. But this is my way : I agree with them for ten shillings per 
sheet, with a proviso that Iwill have their doings corrected with whom I please ; 
so by one or the other they are led at last to the true sense of an author ; my 
judgment giving the negative to all my translators.' * Then how are you sure these 
correctors may not impose upon you ? ' * Why, I get any civil gentleman (espe- 
cially any Scotchman) that comes into my shop, to read the original to me in 
English ; by this I know whether my first translator be deficient, and whether my 
corrector merits his money or not. 

** * I'll tell you what happened to me last month. I bargained with S for 

a new version of "Lucretius," to publish against Tonson's, agreeing to pay the 
author so many shillings at his producing so many lines. He made a great progress 
in a very short time, and I gave it to the corrector to compare with the Latin ; but 
he went directly to Creech's translation, and found it the same, word for word, all 
but the first page. Now, what d'ye think I did ? I arrested the translator for a 



270 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

here may enjoy it, and conjure up those great figures out of the past, 
and listen to their wit and >visdom. Mind that there is always a 
certain cachet about great men — they may be as mean on many 
points as you or I, but they carry their great air — they speak of 

cheat ; nay, and I stopped the corrector's pay, too, upon the proof that he had 
made use of Creech mstead of the original. * 

** * Pray tell me next how you deal with the critics ? ' * Sir,' said he, * nothinj^j 
more easy. I can silence the most formidable of them : the rich ones for a sheet 
apiece of the blotted manuscript, which cost me nothing ; they'll go about with it 
to their acquaintance, and pretend they had it from the author, w^ho submitted it to 
their correction : this has given some of them such an air, that in time they come 
to be consulted with and dedicated to as the tip-top critics of the to\^Ti. — As for the 
poor critics, I'll give you one instance of my management, by which you may guess 
the rest : A lean man, that looked like a very good scholar, came to me t'other 
day ; he turned over your Homer, shook his head, shrugged up his shoulders, and 
pish'd at every line of it. "One would wonder," says he, "at the strange pre- 
sumption of some men ; Homer is no such easy task as every stripling, every 

versifier" he was going on when my wife called to dinner. ** Sir," said I, ** will 

you please to eat a piece of beef with me ? " ** Mr. Lintot," said he, ** I am very 
sorry you should be at the expense of this great book : I am really concerned on 
your account." ** Sir, I am much obliged to you : if you can dine upon a piece of 

beef, together with a slice of pudding ?" — ** Mr. Lintot, I do not say but 

Mr. Pope, if he would condescend to advise with men of learning " — "Sir, 

the pudding is upon the table, if you please to go in." My critic complies ; he 
comes to a taste of your poetry, and tells me in the same breath that the book is 
commendable, and the poetry excellent. 

** * Now, sir,' continued Mr. Lintot, * in return for the frankness I have shown, 
pray tell me, is it the opinion of your friends at court that my Lord Lansdowne 
will be brought to the bar or not ? ' I told him I heard he would not, and I hoped 
it, my lord being one I had particular obligations to. — *That may be,' replied 

Mr. Lintot ; * but by G if he is not, I shall lose the printing of a very good 

trial' 

"These, my lord, are a few traits with which you discern the genius of 
Mr. Lintot, which I have chosen for the subject of a* letter. I dropped him as 
soon as I got to Oxford, and paid a visit to my Lord Carleton, at Middleton. . . . 

"Iam,"&c. 

" Dr. Swift to Mr. Pope. 

^^Sfpt. 29, 1725. 

" I am now returning to the noble scene of Dublin — into the grand mondc — for 

fear of burying my parts ; to signalize myself among curates and vicars, and correct 

all corruptions crept in relating to the weight of bread-and-butter through those 

dominions where I govern. I have employed my time (besides ditching) in finishing. 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 271 

common life more largely and generously than common men do— 
they regard the world with a manlier countenance, and see its real 
features more fairly than the timid shufflers who only dare to look up 
at life through blinkers, or to have an opinion when there is a crowd 

correcting, amending, and transcribing my 'Travels' [Gulliver's], in four parts com- 
plete, newly augmented, and intended for the press when the world shall deserve 
them, or rather, when a printer shall be found brave enough to venture his ears. I 
like the scheme of our meeting after distresses and dissensions ; but the chief end 
I propose to myself in all my labours is to vex the world rather than divert it ; 
and if I could compass that design without hurting my own person and fortune, I 
would be the most indefatigable writer you have ever seen, without reading. I am 
exceedingly pleased that you have done with translations ; Lord Treasurer Oxford 
often lamented that a rascally world should lay you under a necessity of mis- 
employing your genius for so long a time ; but since you will now be so much 
better employed, when you think of the world, give it one lash the more at my 
request I have ever hated all societies, professions, and communities ; and all 
my love is towards individuals — for instance, I hate the tribe of lawyers, but I love 
Councillor Such-a-one and Judge Such-a-one : it is so with physicians (I will not 
speak of my own trade), soldiers, English, Scotch, French, and the rest But 
principally I hate and detest that animal caUed man — although I heartily love 
John, Peter, Thomas, and so on. 

**....! have got materials towards a treatise proving the falsity of that 

definition animal raiionaUy and to show it should be only rationis capax/ 

The matter is so clear that it will admit of no dispute — ^nay, I wiU hold a hundred 
pounds that you and I agree in the point 

**Dr. Lewis sent me an account of Dr. Arbuthnot's illness, which is a very 
sensible affliction to me, who, by living so long out of the world, have lost that 
hardness of heart contracted by years and general conversation. I am daily losing 
friends, and neither seeking nor getting others. Oh I if the world had but a dozen 
of Arbuthnots in it, I would bum my * Travels ! ' " 

**Mr. Pope to Dr. Swift. 

" October 15, 1725. 

''I am wonderfuUy pleased with the suddenness of your kind answer. It 
makes me hope you are coming towards us, and that you incline more and more to 

your old friends Here is one [Lord Bolingbroke] who was once a powerful 

planet, but has now (after long experience of all that comes of shining) learned 
to be content with returning to his first point without the thought or ambition of 
shining at all. Here is another [Edward, Earl of Oxford] , who thinks one of the 
greatest glories of his father was to have distinguished and loved you, and who 
loves you hereditarily. Here is Arbuthnot, recovered from the jaws of death, 
more pleased with the hope of seeing you again than of reviewing a world. 




272 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

, to back it. He who reads these noble records of a past age, salutes 
and reverences the great spirits who adorn it You may go home 
now and talk with St. John ; you may take a volume from your 
library and listen to Swift and Pope. 

Might I give counsel to any young hearer, I would say to him. 
Try to frequent the company of your betters. In books and life that 
IS the most wholesome society ; learn to admire rightly ; the great 
pleasure of life is that. Note what the great men admired ; they 
admired great things: narrow spirits admire basely, and worship 
meanly. I know nothing in any story more gallant and cheering 
than the love and friendship which this company of famous men 
bore towards one another. There never has been a society of men 
more friendly, as there never was one more illustrious. Who dares 
quarrel with Mr. Pope, great and famous himself, for liking the 
society of men great and famous? and for liking them for the 
qualities which made them so ? A mere pretty fellow from White's 
could not have written the ** Patriot King,*' and would very likely 
have despised little Mr. Pope, the decrepit Papist, whom the great 

part of which he has long despised but what is made up of a few men like 
yourself. .... 

** Our friend Gay is used as the friends of Tories are by Whigs — and generally 
by Tories too. Because he had humour, he was supposed to have dealt with 
Dr. Swift, in like manner as when any one had learnmg formerly, he was thought 
to have dealt with the devil 

" Lord Bolingbroke had not the least harm by his fall; I wish he had received 
no more by his other fall. But Lord Bolingbroke is the most improved mind since 
you saw him, that ever was improved without shifting into a new body, or being 
paullo minus ab angelis, I have often imagined to myself, that if ever all of us 
meet again, after so many varieties and changes, after so much of the old world and 
of the old man in each of us has been altered, that scarce a single thought of the 
one, any more than a single action of the other, remains just the same ; I have 
fancied, I say, that we should meet like the righteous in the millennium, quite at 
peace, divested of all our former passions, smiling at our past follies, and content 
to enjoy the kingdom of the just in tranquillity. 

****** 

**I designed to have left the following page for Dr. Arbuthnot to fill, but he 
is so touched with the period in yours to me, concerning him, that he intends to 
answer it by a whole letter. • ♦ * " 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE, 273 

St. John held to be one of the best and greatest of men : a mere 
nobleman of the court could no more have won Barcelona, than he 
could have written Peterborough's letters's to Pope,* which are as 
witty as Congreve: a mere Irish Dean could not have written 
" Gulliver ;** and all these men loved Pope, and Pope loved all these 
men. To name his friends is to name the best men of his time. 
Addison had a senate ; Pope reverenced his equals. He spoke of 
Swift with respect and admiration always. His admiration for 
Bolingbroke was so great, that when some one said of his friend, 
" There is something in that great man which looks as if he was 
placed here by mistake," "Yes," Pope answered, "and when the 

* Of the Earl of Peterborough, Walpole says : — ** He was one of those men 
of careless wit and negligent grace, who scatter a thousand hon-mots and idle 
verses, which we painful compilers gather and hoard, till the authors stare to find 
themselves authors. Such was this lord, of an advantageous figure and enter- 
prising spirit ; as gallant as Amadis and as brave ; but a little more expeditious 
in his journeys : for he is said to have seen more kings and more postilions than 
any man in Europe. . . . He was a man, as his friend said, who would 
neither live nor die like any other mortal." 

** From the Earl of Peterborough to Pope. 

"You must receive my letter with a just impartiality, and give grains of 
allowance for a gloomy or rainy day ; I sink grievously with the weather-glass, 
and am qu'\te spiritless when oppressed with the thoughts of a birthday or a 
return. 

** Dutiful affection was bringing me to town ; but undutiful laziness, and being 
much out of order, keep me in the country : however, if alive, I must make my 
appearance at the birthday. . . . 

"You seem to think it vexatious that I shall allow you but one woman at a 
time cither to praise or love. -If I dispute with you on this point, I doubt every 
fairy will give a verdict against me. So, sir, with a Mahometan indulgence, I 
allow you pluralities, the favourite privileges of our church. 

** I find you don*t mend upon correction ; again I tell you you must not think 
of women in a reasonable way ; you know we always make goddesses of those 
we adore upon earth ; and do not all the good men tell us we must lay aside 
reason in what relates to the Deity ? 

** . . . I should have been glad of anything of Swift's. Pray, when you 
write to him next, tell him I expect him with impatience, in a place as odd and 
as out of the way as himself. Yours. " 

Peterborough married Mrs. Anastasia Robinson, the celebrated singer. 

18 



274 EKGUSH HUMOURISTS, 

comet appeared to us a month or two ago, I had sometimes an imagina- 
tion that it might possibly be come to carry him home, as a coach 
comes to one's door for visitors." So these great spirits spoke of 
one another. Show me six of the dullest middle-aged gentlemen that 
ever dawdled round a club table, so faithful and so friendly. 

We have said before that the cliief wits of this time, with the 
exception of Congreve, were what we should now call men's men. 
They spent many hours of the four-and-twenty, a fourth part of each 
day nearly, in clubs and coffee-houses, where they dined, drank, and 
smoked. Wit and news went by word of mouth ; a journal of 1710 
contained the very smallest portion of one or the other. The chiefs 
spoke, the faithful habitues sat round ; strangers came to wonder and 
listen. Old Dryden had his head-quarters at " Will's," in Russell 
Street, at the comer of Bow Street : at which place Pope saw him 
when he was twelve years old. The company used to assemble on 
the first floor — ^what was called the dining-room floor in those days — 
and sat at various tables smoking their pipes. It is recorded that 
the beaux of the day thought it a great honour to be allowed to take 
a pinch out of Dryden*s snuff-box. WTien Addison began to reign, he 
with a certain crafty propriety — a policy let us call it — which belonged 
to his nature, set up his court, and appointed the officers of his royal 
house. His palace was "Button's," opposite "Will's."* A quiet 
-opposition, a silent assertion of empire, distinguished this great man. 
Addison's ministers were Budgell, Tickell, Phillips, Carey ; his master 
of the horse, honest Dick Steele, who was what Duroc was to 
Napoleon, or Hardy to Nelson \ the man who performed his master's 

♦ ** Button had been a servant in the Countess of Warwick's family, who, 
under the patronage of Addison, kept a coffee-house on the south side of Russell 
Street, about two doors from Covent Garden. Here it was that the wits of that 
time used to assemble. It is said that when Addison had suffered any vexation 
from the Countess, he withdrew the company from Button's house. 

**From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often sat late 
and drank too much wine." — Dr. Johnson. 

Will's coffee-house was on the west side of Bow Street, and "comer of 
Russell Street " Sec * * Handbook of I^ndon. " 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 275 

bidding, and would have cheerfully died in his quarrel. Addison 
lived with these people for seven or eight hours eveiy day. The 
maie society passed over their punch-bowls and tobacco-pipes about 
as much time as ladies of that age spent over Spadille and Manille. ■ 
For a brief space, upon coming up to town. Pope formed part of 
King Joseph's court, and was his rather too eager and obsequious 
humble servant.* Dick Steele, the editor of the Tatier, Mr. Addi- 
son's man, and his own man too — ^a person of no little figure in the 
world of letters, patronized the young poet, and set him a task or two. 
Young Mr. Pope did the tasks very quickly and smartly (he had been 
at the feet, quite as a boy, of Wycherley's-j" decrepit reputation, and 

* ** My acquaintance with Mr. Addison commenced in 1712 : I liked him 
then as well as I liked any man, and was very fond of his conversation. It was 
very soon after that Mr. Addison advised me ' not to be content with the applause 
of half the nation.* He used to talk much and often to me, of moderation in parties : 
and used to blame his dear friend Steele for being too much of a party man. He 
encouraged me in my design of translating the * Iliad,' which was began that year, 
and finished in 1 718." — Pope. Spencers Anecdotes. 

** Addison had Budgell, and I think Phillips, in the house with him. — Gay 
they would call one of my Hives. — ^They were angry with me for keeping so much 
with Dr. Swift and some of the late Ministry." — Pope. Spends Anecdotes, 

t "To Mr. Alcourt. 

^^Jan, 21, 1715-16. 

" I know of nothing that will be so interesting to you at present as some 
circumstances of the last act of that eminent comic poet and our friend, Wycherley. 
He had often told me, and I doubt not he did all his acquaintance, that he would 
marry as soon as his life was despaired of. Accordingly, a few days before his 
death, he underwent the ceremony, and joined together those two sacraments 
which wise men say we should be the last to receive ; for, if you observe, matri- 
mony is placed after extreme unction in our catechism, as a kind of hint of the 
order of time in which they are to be taken. The old man then lay down, 
satisfied in the consciousness of having, by this one act, obliged a woman who 
(he was told) had merit, and shown an heroic resentment of the ill-usage of his 
next heir. Some hundred pounds which he had with the lady discharged his 
debts ; a jointure of 500/. a year made her a recompence ; and the nephew was 
left to comfort himself as well as he could with the miserable remains of a mort- 
gaged estate. I saw our friend twice after this was done — less peevish in his 
sickness than he used to be in his health ; neither much afraid of dying, nor 
(which in him had been more likely) much ashamed of marrying. The evening 



276 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

m 

propped up for a year that doting old wit) : he was anxious to be 
well with the men of letters, to get a footing and a recognition- He 
thought it an honour to be admitted into their company ; to have the 
confidence of Mr. Addison's friend, Captain Steele. His eminent 
parts obtained for him the honour of heralding Addison's triumph of 
" Cato " with his admirable prologue, and heading the victorious pro- 
cession as it were. Not content with this act of homage and admira- 
tion, he wanted to distinguish himself by assaulting Addison's 
enemies, and attacked John Dennis \inth a prose lampoon, which 
highly offended his lofty patron. Mr. Steele was instructed to write 
to Mr. Dennis, and inform him that Mr. Pope's pamphlet against him 
was written quite without Mr. Addison's approval.* Indeed, " The 
Narrative of Dr. Robert Norris on the Phrenzy of J. D." is a vulgar 
and mean satire, and such a blow as the magnificent Addison could 
never desire to see any partisan of his strike in any literary quarrel. 
Pope was closely allied with Swift when he wrote this pamphlet. It 
is so dirty that it has been printed in Swift's works, too. It bears the 

before he expired, he called his young wife to the bedside, and earnestly entreated 
her not to deny him one request — the last he should make. Upon her assurances 
of consenting to it, he told her : * My dear, it is only this — that you ^v-ill never 
marry an old man again.' I cannot help remarking that sickness, which often 
destroys both wit and wisdom, yet seldom has power to remove that talent which 
we call humour. Mr. Wycherley showed his even in his last compliment ; though 
I think his request a little hard, for why should he bar her from doubling her 
jointure on the same easy terms ? 

*' So trivial as these circumstances are, I should not be displeased myself to 
know such trifles when they concern or characterize any eminent person. The 
wisest and wittiest of men are seldom wiser or wittier than others in these sober 
moments ; at least, our friend ended much in the same character he had lived in ; 
and Horace's rule for play may as well be applied to him as a pbywright : — 

" * Servetur ad imum 
Qualis ab incepto processerit et sibi constet.' 

"Iam,"&c. 

• "Addison, who was no stranger to the world, probably saw the selfishness of 
Pope's friendship ; and resolving that he should have the consequences of his 
ofhciousness to himself, informed Dennis by Steele that he was sorry for the 
insult"— Johnson : Life of Addison, 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 277 

foul marks of the master hand. Swift admired and enjoyed with all 
his heart the prodigious genius of the young Papist lad out of 
Windsor Forest, who had never seen a university in his life, and 
came and conquered the Dons and the doctors with his wit. He 
applauded, and loved him, too, and protected him, and taught him 
mischief. I wish Addison could have loved him better. The best 
satire that ever has been penned would never have been written 
then ; and one of the best characters the world ever knew would 
have been without a flaw. But he who had so few equals could not 
bear one, and Pope was more than that. When Pope, trying for 
himself, and soaring on his immortal young wings, found that his, too, 
was a genius, which no pinion of that age could follow, he rose and 
left Addison's company, settling on his own eminence, and singing 
his own song. 

It was not possible that Pope should remain a retainer of 
Mr. Addison ; nor likely that after escaping from his vassalage and 
assuming an independent crown, the sovereign whose allegiance he 
quitted should view him amicably.* They did not do wrong to 
mislike each other. They but followed the impulse of nature, and the 
consequence of position. When Bemadotte became heir to a throne, 
the Prince Royal of Sweden was naturally Napoleon's enemy. 
" There are many passions and tempers of mankind," says Mr. Addi- 
son in the Spectator^ speaking a couple of years before their little 
differences between him and Mr. Pope took place, " which naturally 
dispose us to depress and vilify the merit of one rising in the esteem 
of mankind. All those who made their entrance into the world with 

♦ ** While I was heated with what I heard, I w^rote a letter to Mr. Addison, to 
let him know * that I was not unacquainted with this behaviour of his ; that if I 
was to speak of him severely in return for it, it should not be in such a dirty way ; 
that I should rather tell him himself fairly of his faults, and allow his good 
<iualities ; and that it should be something in the following manner.* I then 
subjoined the first sketch of what has since been called my satire on Addison. 
He used me very civilly ever after ; and never did me any injustice, that I know 
4of, from that time to his death, which was about three years after." — Pope. 
Spcnc^s Anecdotes, 



278 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

the same advantages, and were once looked on as his equals, are apt 
to think the fame of his merits a reflection on their own deserts. 
Those who were once his equals envy and defame him, because they 
now see him the superior ; and those who were once his superiors, 
because they look upon him as their equal." Did Mr. Addison, 
justly perhaps thinking that, as young Mr. Pope had not had the 
benefit of a university education, he couldn't know Greek, therefore 
he couldn't translate Homer, encourage his young friend Mr. Tickell, 
of Queen's, to translate that poet, and aid him with his own known 
scholarship and skill?* It was natural that Mr. Addison should 
doubt of the learning of an amateur Grecian, should have a high 
opinion of Mr. Tickell, of Queen's, and should help that ingenious 
young man. It was natural, on the other hand, that Mr. Pope and 
Mr. Pope's friends should believe that this counter-translation, 
suddenly advertised and so long written, though Tickell's college 
friends had never heard of it — though, when Pope first wrote to 
Addison regarding his scheme, Mr. Addison knew nothing of tlie 
similar project of Tickell, of Queen's — it was natural that Mr. Pope 
and his friends, having interests, passions, and prejudices pi their 
own, should believe that Tickell's translation was but an act of oppo- 
sition against Pope, and that they should call Mr. Tickell's emulation 
Mr. Addison's envy — if envy it were. 

"And were there one whose fires 
Tnie genius kindles and fair fame inspires, 
Blest with each talent and each heart to please, 
And bom to write, converse, and live with ease ; 
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, 
Bear like the Turk no brother near the throne ; 
View him with scornful yet with jealous eyes. 
And hate, for arts that caused himself to rise ; 
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer. 
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer ; 

* "That Tickell should have been guilty of a villany seems to us highly 
improbable ; that Addison should have been guilty of a villany seems to us highly 
improbable ; but that these two men should have conspired together to commit a 
villany, seems, to us, improbable in a tenfold degree." — Macau lay. 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 279 

Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike, 
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike ; 
Alike reserved to blame as to commend, 
A timorous foe and a suspicious friend ; 
Dreading even fools, by flatterers besieged. 
And so obliging that he ne'er obliged : 
Like Cato give his little senate laws. 
And sit attentive to his own applause ; 
While wits and templars every sentence raise, 
And wonder with a foolish face of praise ; 
Who but must laugh if such a man there be. 
Who would not weep if Atticus were he ? " 

" I sent the verses to Mr. Addison," said Pope, " and he used me 
very civilly ever after." No wonder he did. It was shame very 
likely more than fear that silenced him. Johnson recounts an inter- 
view between Pope and Addison after their quarrel, in which Pope 
was angry, and Addison tried to be contemptuous and calm. Such a 
weapon as Pope's must have pierced any scorn. It flashes for ever, 
and quivers in Addison's memor}\ His great figure looks out on us 
from the past — stainless but for that — pale, calm, and beautiful : it 
bleeds from that black wound. He should be drawn, like St. Sebastian, 
with that arrow in his side. As he sent to Gay and asked his pardon, 
as he bade his stepson come and see his death, be sure he had for- 
given Pope, when he made ready to show how a Christian could die. 

Pope then formed part of the Addisonian court for a short time, 
and describes himself in his letters as sitting with that coterie until 
two o'clock in the morning over punch and burgundy amidst the 
fumes of tobacco. To use an expression of the present day, the 
" pace " of those viveurs of the former age was awful. Peterborough 
lived into the very jaws of death ; Godolphin laboured all day and 
gambled at night ; Bolingbroke,* writing to Swift, from Dawley, in 

♦ ** Lord Bolingbroke to the Three Yahoos of Twickenham. 

"7«^23, 1726. 

"Jonathan, Alexander, John, most excellent Triumvirs or* 
Parnassus, — 

** Though you are probably very indifTerent where I am, or what I am 
doing, yet I resolve to believe the contrary. I persuade myself that you have sent 




28o ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

his retirement, dating his letter at six o'clock in the morning, and 
rising, as he says, refreshed, serene, and calm, calls to mind the time 
of his London life ; when about that hour he used to be going to 
bed, surfeited with pleasure, and jaded with business ; his head often 
full of schemes, and his heart as often full of anxiety. It was too 
hard, too coarse a life for the sensitive, sickly Pope. He was the 
only wit of the day, a friend writes to me, who wasn t fat.* Swift was 
fat ; Addison was fat ; Steele was fat ; Gay and Thomson were pre- 
posterously fat — all that fuddling and punch-drinking, that club and 
coffee-house boozing, shortened the lives and enlarged the waistcoats 
of the men of that age. Pope withdrew in a great measure from this 
boisterous London company, and being put Into an independence by 
the gallant exertions of Swift t and his private friends, and by the 
enthusiastic national admiration which justly rewarded his great 
achievement of the " Iliad," purchased that famous villa of Twickenham 
which his song and life celebrated; duteously bringing his old parents 
to live and die there, entertaining his friends there, and making 
occasional visits to London in his little chariot, in which Atterbury 
compared him to " Homer in a nutshell." 

** Mr. Dryden was not a genteel man,*' Pope quaintly said to 
Spence, speaking of the manner and habits of the famous old 

at least fifteen times within this fortnight to Dawley farm, and that you are 
extremely mortified at my long silence. To relieve you, therefore, from this great 
anxiety of mind, I can do no less than write a few lines to you ; and I please 
myself beforehand with the vast pleasure which this epistle must needs give you. 
That I may add to this pleasure, and give further proofs of my beneficent temper, 
I will likewise inform you, that I shall be in your neighbourhood again, by the end 
of next week : by which time I hope that Jonathan*s imagination of business will 
be succeeded by some imagination more becoming a professor of that divine 
science, la bagatelU. Adieu. Jonathan, Alexander, John, mirth be with you !" 

* Prior must be excepted from this obser\'ation. ** He was lank and lean." 

f Swift exerted himself very much in promoting the ** Iliad '* subscription ; 
and also introduced Pope to Harley and Bolingbroke. — Pope realized by the 
"Iliad" upwards of 5,ocx)/., which he laid out partly in annuities, and partly in 
the purchase of his famous villa. Johnson remarks that *' it would be hard to find 
a man so well entitled to notice by his wit, that ever delighted so much in talking 
-of his money." 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 281 

patriarch of " Will's." With regard lo Pope's own manners, we have 
the best contemporary authority that they were singularly refined and 
polished. With his extraordinary sensibility, with his known tastes, 
with his delicate frame, with hi? power and dread of ridicule, Pope 
could liave been no other than what we call a highly-bred person." 
His closest friends, with the exception of Swift, were among the 
delights and ornaments of the polished society of their age. Garth,! 
the accomplished and benevolent, whom Steele has described so 
charmingly, of whom Codrington said that his character was " all 
beauty," and whom Pope himself called the best of Christians 
without knowing it; Arbuthnot,J one of the wisest, wittiest, most 

* "His (Pope's) voice in common conversation was so naturally musical, 
that I remember honest Tom Southeme used always lo call him 'tlie lilllc 
nifhiinj^e.' "— Orrery. 

t Garth, whom Dryden calls " generous as his Muse," was a Yorkshireman. 
He graduated at Cambridge, and was made M.D. in 1691. He soon dislingui>.hed 
himself in his profession, by his poem of the " Di><pcnsikry," and in society, and 
pronounced Drydon's funeral oration. He was a strict Whig, a notable memtier of 
the "Kii-Ca(,"and a friendly, convivial, able man. He was knighted by George I., 
with the Duke of Marlborough's sword. He died in 1718. 

I "Arbutlinol was the son of an episcopal clergyman in Scotland, and 
belonged lo an ancient and distinguished Scotch family. He was educated at 
Aberdeen ; and, coming up to Ix)ndon— according to a Scotch practice often 
enough alluded to— to make his fortune— (irst made himself known by ' An 
Kxamination of Dr. Woodward's Account of the Deluge.' He became physician 
successively to Prince George of Denmark and to Queen Anne. He is usually 
allowed to have been the most learned, as well as one of the most witty and 
humourous membera of the Scriblerui Club. The opinion entertained of him by 
the humourists of the day is abtucUatlj nidaiccd in th«r correspondence. When 
he found himself in his last illness, he wrote thus, from bis relteal at Hampslcad, 
to Swift :— 
"'My Dear and Worthy Fiiiehi>,— - HvufUmii, Oei. 4, 

for I wrote Wo long letters to you, 
The first was about youi hoiilbt. 
Mar. I can assure yini with 
hu.a more warm heart towWilai 
some world, and you, 
(mod wishes. 




282 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

accomplished, gentlest of mankind; Bolingbroke, the Alcibiades of 
his age ; the generous Oxford ; the magnificent, the witt}% the 



II ( 



. . I came out to this place so reduced by a dropsy and an asthma, that 
I could neither sleep, breathe, eat, nor move. I most earnestly desired and begged 
of God that he would take me. Contrary to my expectation, upon venturing to 
ride (which I had forborne for some years), I recovered my strength to a pretty- 
considerable degree, slept, and had my stomach again. . . . What I did, I 
can assure you was not for life, but ease ; for I am at present in the case of a man 
that was almost in harbour, and then blown back to sea — who has a reasonable 
hope of going to a good place, and an absolute certainty of leaving a very bad one. 
Not that I have any particular disgust at the world ; for I have as great comfort in 
my own family and from the kindness of my friends as any man ; but the world, in 
the main, displeases me, and I have too true a presentiment of calamities that are 
to befall my country. However, if I should have the happiness to see you before 
I die, you will find that I enjoy the comforts of life with my usual cheerfulness. 
I cannot imagine why you are frightened from a journey to England : the 
reasons you assign are not sufficient — the journey I am sure would do you good. 
In general, I recommend riding, of which I have always had a good opinion, 
and can now confirm it from my own experience. 

" *My family give you their love and service. The great loss I sustained in 
one of them gave me my first shock, and the trouble I have with the rest to 
bring them to a right temper to bear the loss of a father who loves them, and 
whom they love, is really a most sensible affliction to me. I am afraid, my dear 
friend, we shall never see one another more in this world. I shall, to the last 
moment, preserve my love and esteem for you, being well assured you will never 
leave the paths of virtue and honour ; for all that is in this world is not worth the 
least deviation from the way. It will be great pleasure to me to hear from you 
sometimes ; for none are with more sincerity than I am, my dear friend, your most 
faithful friend and humble servant.' " 

** Arbuthnot," Johnson says, "was a man of great comprehension, skilful in his 
profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient literature, and able to 
animate his mass of knowledge by a bright and active imagination ; a scholar with 
great brilliance of wit ; a wit who, in the crowd of life, retained and discovered a 
noble ardour of religious zeal." 

Dugald Stewart has testified to Arbuthnot's ability in a department of which 
he was particularly qualified to judge : " Let me add, that, in the list of philo- 
sophical reformers, the authors of *Martinus Scriblerus* ought not to be over- 
looked. Their happy ridicule of the scholastic logic and metaphysics is universally 
known; but few are aware of the acuteness and sagacity displayed in their allusions 
to some of the most vulnerable passages in Locke's * Essay. ' In this part of the 
work it is commonly understood that Arbuthnot had the principal share.** — Stt 
Prdimhtary Dissertation to Encychpadia Britannica, note to p. 242, and also 
note B. B. B., p. 285. 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. - 283 

famous, and chivalrous Peterborough : these were the Cast and 
faithful friends of Pope, the most brilliant company of friends, let us 
repeat, that the world has ever seen. The favourite recreation of his 
leisure hours was the society of painters, whose art he practised. In 
his correspondence are letters between him and Jervas, whose pupil 
he loved to be — Richardson, a celebrated artist of his time, and who 
painted for him a portrait of his old mother, and for whose picture he 
asked and thanked Jer\'as in one of the most delightful letters that 
ever was penned,* — and the wonderful Kneller, who bragged more, 
spelt worse, and painted better than any artist of his day.t 

It is affecting to note, through Pope's correspondence, the 
marked way in which his friends, the greatest, the most famous, and 
wittiest men of the time — generals and statesmen, philosophers and 
divines — all have a kind word and a kind thought for the good 
simple old mother, whom Pope tended so affectionately. Those men 
would have scarcely valued her, but that they knew how much he 

• " To Mr. Richardson. 

** Twickenham f June lo, 1733. 

"As I know you and I mutually desire to see one another, I hope that this 
day our wishes would have met, and brought you hither. And this for the very 
reason, which possibly might hinder you coming, that my poor mother is dead. 
I thank God, her death was as easy as her life was innocent ; and as it cost her not 
a groan, or even a sigh, there is yet upon her countenance such an expression of 
tranquillity, nay, almost of pleasure, that it is even amiable to behold it. It would 
afford the finest image of a saint expired that ever painter drew; and it would be 
the greatest obligation which even that obliging art could ever bestow on a friend, 
if you could come and sketch it for mc. I am sure, if there be no very precedent 
obstacle, you will leave any common business to do this ; and I hope to see you 
this evening, or to-morrow morning as early, before this winter flower is faded. 
I will defer her interment till to-morrow night. I know you love me, or I could 
not have written this — I could not (at this time) have written at all. Adieu ! 
May you die as happy ! Yours,** &c 

t **Mr. Pope was with Sir Godfrey Kneller one day, when his nephew, 
a Guinea trader, came in. * Nephew,' said Sir Godfrey, * you have the honour of 
seeing the two greatest men in the world.* — * I don*t know how great you may be,* 
said the Guinea man, ' but I don*t like your looks : I have often bought a man 
much better than both of you together, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas.* ** — 
Dr. Warburton. Spencers Anecdotes, 



284 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

loved her, and that they pleased him by thinking of her. If his early 
letters to women are affected and insincere, whenever he speaks 
about this one, it is with a childish tenderness and an almost sacred 
simplicity. In 17 13, when young Mr. Pope had, by a series of the 
most astonishing victories and dazzling achievements, seized the 
crown of poetry, and the town was in an uproar of admiration, or 
hostility, for the young chief; when Pope was issuing his famous 
decrees for the translation of the " Iliad ; " when Dennis and the 
lower critics were hooting and assailing him ; when Addison and the 
gentlemen of his court were sneering with sickening hearts at the 
prodigious triumphs of the young conqueror ; when Pope, in a fever 
of victory, and genius, and hope, and anger, was struggling through 
the crowd of shouting friends and furious detractors to his temple of 
Fame, his old mother writes from the country, " My deare," saj-s she 
— " My deare, there's Mr. Blount, of Mapel Durom, dead the same 
day that Mr. Inglefield died. Your sister is well ; but your brother is 
sick. My service to Mrs. Blount, and all that ask of me. I hope to 
hear from you, and that you are well, which is my daily prayer ; and 
this with my blessing." The triumph marches by, and the car of the 
young conqueror, the hero of a hundred brilliant victories : the fond 
mother sits in the quiet cottage at home and says, " I send you my 
daily prayers, and I bless you, my deare." 

In our estimate of Pope's character, let us always take into 
account that constant tenderness and fidelity of affection which 
pervaded and * sanctified his life, and never forget that maternal 
benediction.* It accompanied him always : his life seems purified 
by those artless and heartfelt prayers. And he seems to have 
received and deserved the fond attachment of the other members of 
his family. It is not a little touching to read in Spence of the 

• Swift's mention of him as one 

* * whose filial piety excels 

Whatever Grecian story tells," 

is well known. And a sneer of Walpole's may be put to a better use than he ever 
intended it for, hpropas of this subject. — He charitably sneers, in one of his letters, 
at Spence*s •* fondling an old mother— in imitation of Pope ! " 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 285 

enthusiastic admiration with which his half-sister regarded him, and 
the simple anecdote by which she illustrates her love. " I think no 
man was ever so little fond of money." Mrs. Rackett says about her 
brother, " I think my brother when he was young read more books 
than any man in the world ; " and she falls to telling stories of his 
school-days, and the manner in which his master at Twyford ill-used 
him. " I don't think my brother knew what fear was," she continues ; 
and the accounts of Pope's friends bear out this character for 
courage. When he had exasperated the dunces, and threats of 
violence and personal assault were brought to him, the dauntless 
little champion never for one instant allowed fear to disturb him, or 
condescended to take any guard in his daily walks, except occasion- 
ally his faithful dog to bear him company. " I had rather die at 
once," said the gallant little cripple, " than live in fear of those 
rascals." 

As for his death, it was what the noble Arbuthnot asked and 
enjoyed for himself— a euthanasia — a beautiful end. A perfect 
benevolence, affection, serenity, hallowed the departure of that high 
soul. Even in the very hallucinations of his brain, and weaknesses 
of his delirium, there was something almost sacred. Spencc 
describes him in his last days, looking up and with a rapt gaze as if 
something had suddenly passed before him. "He said to me, 
* What's that ? * pointing into the air with a very steady regard, and 
then looked down and said, with a smile of the greatest softness, 
" Twas a vision ! " He laughed scarcely ever, but his companions 
describe his countenance as often illuminated by a peculiar sweet 
smile. 

"When," said Spence,* the kind anecdotist whom Johnson 

* Joseph Spence was the son of a clergyman, near Winchester. He was. 
a short time at Eton, and afterwards became a Fellow of New College, Oxford, 
a clergyman, and professor of poetry. He was a friend of Thomson's, whose 
reputation he aided. He published an *' Essay on the Odyssey " in 1726, which 
introduced him to Pope. Everybody liked him. His ** Anecdotes " were placed,, 
while still in MS., at the service of Johnson and also of Malone. They were 
published by Mr. Singer in 1820. 




286 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

despised — " When I was telling Lord Bolingbroke that Mr. Pope, on 
every catching and recovery of his mind, was always saying something 
kindly of his present or absent friends; and that this was so surprising, 
as it seemed to me as if humanity had outlasted understanding. 
Lord Bolingbroke said, * It has so,* and then added, * I never in my 
life knew a man who had so tender a heart for his particular friends, 
or a more general friendship for mankind. I have known him these 

thirty years, and value myself more for that man's love than* ' 

Here,*' Spence says, " Sl John sunk his head, and lost his voice in 
tears." The sob which finishes the epitaph is finer than words. It is 
the cloak thrown over the father's face in tiie famous Greek picture, 
which hides the grief and heightens it. 

In Johnson's " Life of Pope " you will find described, with 
rather a malicious minuteness, some of the personal habits and 
infirmities of the great little Pope. His body was crooked, he was 
so short that it was necessary to raise his chair in order to place him 
on a level with other people at table.* He was sewed up in a 
buckram suit every morning and required a nurse like a child. His 
contemporaries reviled these misfortunes with a strange acrimony, 
and made his poor deformed person the butt for many a bolt of 
heavy wit The facetious Mr. Dennis, in speaking of him, says, " If 
you take the first letter of Mr. Alexander Pope's Christian name, and 
the first and last letters of his surname, you have A. P. E." Pope 
catalogues, at the end of the Dunciad, with a rueful precision, other 
pretty names, besides Ape, which Dennis called him- That great 
critic pronounced Mr. Pope was a litde ass, a fool, a coward, a 
Papist, and therefore a hater of Scripture, and so forth. It must be 

♦ He speaks of Arbuthnot's having helped him through "that long disease, 
my life. " But not only was he so feeble as is implied in his use of the * * buckram," 
but ** it now appears," says Mr. Peter Cunningham, "from his unpublished letters, 
that, like Lord Hervey, he had recourse to ass's-milk for the preservation of his 
health." It is to his lordship's use of that simple beverage that he alludes when 
he says — 

** Let Sporus tremble ! — A. What, that thing of silk, 
Sporus, that mere white-curd of ass*s milk ? " 



PRIOR, GAV, AND POPE. 287 

remembered that the pillory was a flourishing and popular institution 
in those clays. Authors stood in it in the body sometimes : and 
dragged their enemies thither morally, hooted them with foul abuse, 
and assailed them with garbage of the gutter. Poor Pope's figure 
was an easy one for those clumsy caricaturists to draw. Any siupid 
hand could draw a hunchback, and write Pope underneath. They 
did. A libel was published against Pope, with such a frontispiece. 
This kind of rude jesling was an evidence not only of an ill nature, 
but a dull one. When a child makes a pun, or a lout breaks out 
into a laugh, it is some very obvious combination of words, or 
discrepancy of objects, which provokes the infantine satirist, or 
tickles the boorish wag ; and many of Pope's revilers laughed, not so 
much because they were wicked, as because they knew no better. 

Without the utmost sensibility, Pope could not have been the 
poet he was ; and through his life, however much he protested tliat 
he disregarded their abuse, the coarse ridicule of his opponents stung 
and tore him. One of Gibber's pamphlets coming into Pope's hands, 
whilst Richardson the painter was with him. Pope turned round and 
said, " These things are my diversions ; " and Richardson, sitting by 
whilst Pope perused the libel, said he saw his featiures " writhing with 
anguish." How little human nature changes I Can't one see that 
little figure? Can't one fancy one is reading Horace? Can't one 
fancy one is speaking of to-day? 

The tastes and sensibilities of Pope, which led him to cultivate 
the society of persons of fine manners^ or wit, or taste, or beauty, 
caused him to shrink equally from that shabby and boistenHu ciew 
which formed the rank and lile of literature in his t 
as unjust to these men as Ihey to liini. The delia 
sickened at habits and company which were quite 
robuster men : and in the famous feud betwei 
Dunces, and without attributing any peculiar v 
can quite understand how the two paitifi^ should s 
As I fancy, it was a sort of a 
passed, Mr. Addison and his n 




288 ENLGISH HUMOURISTS. 

down on it from their balcony; so it was natural for Dennis and 
Tibbald, and Webster and Gibber, and the worn and hungry press- 
men in the crowd below, to how^l at him and assail him. And Pope 
was more savage to Grub Street than Grub Street was to Pope. The 
thong with which he lashed them was dreadful ; he fired upon that 
howling crew such shafts of flame and poison, he slew and wounded 
so fiercely, that in reading the "Dunciad" and the "prose lampoons 
of Pope, one feels disposed to side against the ruthless little tjTant, 
at least to pity those wretched folks upon whom he was so unmer- 
ciful. It was Pope, and Swift to aid him, >vho established among us 
the Grub Street traditiorL He revels in base descriptions of poor 
men's want ; he gloats over poor Dennis's garret, and flannel-night- 
cap, and red stockings; he gives instructions how to find Curll's 
authors, the historian at the tallow-chandler's under the blind arch in 
Petty France, the two translators in bed together, the poet in the 
cock-loft in Budge Row, whose landlady keeps the ladder. It was 
Pope, I fear, who contributed, more than any man who ever lived, to 
depreciate the literary calling. It was not an unprosperous one 
before that time, as we have seen ; at least there were great prizes in 
the profession which had made Addison a Minister, and Prior an 
Ambassador, and Steele a Commissioner, and Swift all but a Bishop. 
The profession of letters was ruined by that libel of the " Dunciad." 
If authors were wretched and poor before, if some of them lived in 
haylofts, of which their landladies kept the ladders, at least nobody 
came to disturb them in their straw ; if three of them had but one 
coat between them, the two remained invisible in the garret, the 
third, at any rate, appeared decently at the coffee-house and paid his 
twopence like a gentleman. It was Pope that dragged into light all 
this poverty and meanness, and held up those wretched shifts and 
rags to public ridicule. It was Pope that has made generations of 
the reading world (delighted with the mischief, as who would not be 
that reads it?) believe that author and wretch, author and rags, 
author and dirt, author and drink, gin, cow-heel, tripe, poverty, duns, 
bailiffs, squalling children and clamorous landladies, were always 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 289 

associated together. The condition of authorship began to fall from 
the days of the " Dunciad : " and I believe in my heart that much of 
that obloquy which has since pursued our calling was occasioned by 
Pope's libels and wicked wit Everybody read those. Everybody 
was familiarised with the idea of the poor devil, the autiior. The 
manner is so captivating that young authors practise it, and begin 
their career with satire. It is so easy to write, and so pleasant to 
read ! to fire a shot that makes a giant wince, perhaps ; and fancy 
one's self his conqueror. It is easy to shoot — ^but not as Pope did. 
The shafts of his satire rise sublimely : no poet's verse ever mounted 
higher than that wonderful flight with which the "Dunciad" 
concludes : — * 

" She comes, she comes ! the sable throne behold 
Of Night primeval and of Chaos old ; 
Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay, 
And all its varying rainbows die away ; 
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, 
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires. 
As, one by one, at dread Medea's strain 
The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plain ; 
As Argus* eyes, by Hermes' wand oppress'd, 
Closed, one by one, to everlasting rest ; — 
Thus, at her fell approach and secret might, 
Art after Art goes out, and all is night 
See skulking Faith to her old cavern fled, 
Mountains of casuistry heaped o'er her head ; 
Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before, 
Shrinks to her second cause and is no more. 
Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires, 
And, unawares, Morality expires. 
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine, 
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine. 
Lo ! thy dread empire, Chaos, is restored, 
Light dies before thy uncreating word ; 
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain' fall, 
And universal darkness buries all." f 

* '*He (Johnson) repeated to us, in his forcible melodious manner, the con- 
cluding lines of the * Dunciad. ' "— Boswell. 

t ''Mr. Langton informed me that he once related to Johnson (on the autho- 

19 




290 • ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

In these astonishing lines Pope reaches, I think, to the very 
greatest height which his sublime art has attained, and shows himself 
the equal of all poets of all times. It is the brightest ardour, the 
loftiest assertion of truth, the most generous wisdom, illustrated by 
the noblest poetic figure, and spoken in words the aptest, grandest, 
and most harmonious. It is heroic courage speaking: a splendid 
declaration of righteous wrath and war. It is the gage flung down, 
and the silver trumpet ringing defiance to falsehood and tyranny, 
deceit, dulness, superstition. It is Truth, the champion, shining and 
intrepid, and fronting the great world-tyrant with armies of slaves at 
his back. It is a wonderful and victorious single combat, in that great 
battle, which has always been waging since society began. 

In speaking of a work of consummate art one does not try to 
show what it actually is, for that were vain ; but what it is like, and 
what are the sensations produced in tlie mind of him who views it 
And in considering Pope's admirable career, I am forced into 
similitudes drawn from other courage and greatness, and into com- 
paring him with those who achieved triumphs in actual war. I think 
of the works of young Pope as I do of the actions of young Bonaparte 
or young Nelson. In their' common life you will find frailties and 
meannesses, as great as the vices and follies of the meanest men. 
But in the presence of the great occasion, the great soul flashes out, 
and conquers transcendent In thinking of the splendour of Pope's 
young victories, of his merit, unequalled as his renown, I hail and 
salute the achieving genius, and do homage to the pen of a hero. 

rity of Spence), that Pope himself admired these lines so much that when he 
repeated them his voice faltered. 'And well it might, sir,' said Johnson, *for 
they are noble lines.* " — ^J. Boswell, junior. 



( 291 ) 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 

I SUPPOSE, as long as novels last and authors aim at interesting 
their public, there must always be in the story a virtuous and 
gallant hero, a wicked monster his opposite, and a pretty girl who 
finds a champion; bravery and virtue conquer beauty; and vice,* 
after seeming to triumph through a certain number of pages, is sure 
to be discomfited in the last volume, when justice overtakes him and 
honest folks come by their own. There never was perhaps a greatly 
popular story but this simple plot was carried through it : mere satiric 
wit is addressed to a class of readers and thinkers quite diflferent to 
those simple souls who laugh and weep over the novel. I fancy very 
few ladies indeed, for instance, could be brought to like "Gulliver" 
heartily, and (putting the coarseness and diflference of manners out of 
the question) to relish the wonderful satire of " Jonathan Wild." In 
that strange apologue, the author takes for a hero the greatest rascal, 
coward, traitor, tyrant, hypocrite, that his wit and experience, both 
large in this matter, could enable him to devise or depict ; he accom- 
panies this villain through all the actions of his life, with a grinning 
deference and a wonderful mock respect : and doesn't leave him, till 
he is dangling at the gallows, when the satirist makes him a low bow 
and wishes the scoundrel good day. 

It was not by satire of this sort, or by scorn and contempt, that 
Hogarth achieved his vast popularit}- and acquired his reputation.* 
His art is quite simple,t he speaks popular parables to interest simple 

• Coleridge speaks of the ** beautiful female faces " in Hogarth's pictures, **in 
whom," he says, "the satirist never extinguished that love of beauty which 
belonged to him as a poet." — The Friend. 

f '* I was pleased with the reply of a gendeman, who, being asked which 
book he esteemed most in his library, answered ' Shakspeare : * being asked which 



292 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

hearts, and to inspire them with pleasure or pity or warning and 
terror. Not one of his tales but is as easy as " Goody Twoshoes ; " 
it is the moral of Tommy was a naughty boy and the master flogged 
him, and Jacky was a good boy and had plum-cake, which pervades 

he esteemed next best, replied ' Hogarth.' His graphic representations are indeed 
books : they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other 
pictures we look at — his prints we read. .... 

"The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture would 

almost unvulgarise every subject which he might choose 

" I say not that all the ridiculous subjects of Hogarth have necessarily some- 
thing in them to make us like them ; some are indifferent to us, some in their 
nature repulsive, and only made interesting by the wonderful skill and truth to 
nature in the painter ; but I contend that there is in most of them that sprinkling of 
the better nature, which, like holy water, chases away and disperses the contagion of 
the bad. They have this in them, besides, that they bring us acquainted with the 
every-day human face, — they give us skill to detect those gradations of sense and 
virtue (which escape the careless or fastidious observer) in the circumstances of the 
world about us ; and prevent that disgust at common life, that tadium quoti- 
dianarum formarumt which an unrestricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is 
in danger of producing. In this, as in many other things, they are analogous to 
the best novels of Smollett and Fielding." — Charles Lamb. 

** It has been observed that Hogarth's pictures are exceedingly unlike any 
other representations of the same kind of subjects — that they form a class, and 
have a character, peculiar to themselves. It may be worth while to consider in 
what this general distinction consists. 

" In the first place, they are, in the strictest sense, historical pictures ; and if 
what Fielding says be true, that his novel of * Tom Jones ' ought to be regarded 
as an epic prose-poem, because it contained a regular development of fable, 
manners, character, and passion, the compositions of Hogarth will, in like 
manner, be found to have a higher claim to the title of epic pictures than many 
which have of late arrogated that denomination to themselves. When we say that 
Hogarth treated his subject historically, we mean that his works represent the 
manners and humours of mankind in action, and their characters by varied 
expression. Everything in his pictures has life and motion in it. Not only does 
the business of the scene never stand still, but every feature and muscle Is put into 
full play ; the exact feeling of the moment is brought out, and carried to its utmost 
height, and then instantly seized and stamped on the canvas for ever. The 
expression is always taken en passant^ in a state of progress or change, and,, as it 

were, at the salient point His figures are not like the back-ground. 

on which they are painted : even the pictures on the wall have a peculiar look of 
their own. Again, with the rapidity, variety, and scope of history, Hogarth's 
heads have all the reality and correctness of portraits. He gives the extremes of 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 293 

the whole works of the homely and famous English moralist And if 
the moral is written in rather too laige letters after the fable, we must 
remember how simple the scholars and schoolmaster both were, and 
like neither the less because they are so artless and honest " It was 
a maxim of Dr. Harrison's,** Fielding says, in "Amelia," — speaking 
of the benevolent divine and philosopher who represents the good 
principle in that novel — " that no man can descend below himself, in 
doing any act which may contribute to protect an innocent person, or 
to bring a rogue to the galio7Vs.^^ The moralists of that age had no 
compunction, you see ; they had not begun to be sceptical about the 
theory of punishment, and thought that the hanging of a thief was a 
spectacle for edification. Masters sent their apprentices, fathers took 
their children, to see Jack Sheppard or Jonathan Wild hanged, and 
it was as undoubting subscribers to this moral law, that Fielding 
wrote and Hogarth painted. Except in one instance, where, in the 
mad-house scene in the " Rake's Progress," the girl whom he has 
ruined is represented as still tending and wfeeping over him in his 
insanity, a glimpse of pity for his rogues never seems to enter honest 
Hogarth's mind. There's not the slightest doubt in the breast of the 
jolly Draco. 

The famous set of pictures called " Marriage k la Mode," and 
which are now exhibited in the National Gallery in London, contains 
the most important and highly wrought of the Hogarth comedies. 
The care and method with which the moral grounds of these 
pictures are laid is as remarkable as the wit and skill of the 
observing and dexterous artist. He has to describe the negotiations 
for a marriage pending between the daughter of a rich citizen 
Alderman and young Lord Viscount Squanderfield, the dissipated 
son of a gouty old Earl. Pride and pomposity appear in every 

character and expression, but he gives them with perfect truth and accuracy. 
This is, in fact, what distinguishes his compositions from all others of the same 
kind, that they are equally remote from caricature, and from mere still life. 
. . . . His faces go to the very verge of caricature, and yet never (we believe 
in any single instance) go beyond it." — Hazlitt. 




294 EN GUSH HUMOURISTS. 

accessor}' surrounding the Earl. He sits in gold lace and velvet — 
as how should such an Earl wear anything but velvet and gold lace ? 
His coronet is everywhere : on his footstool, on which reposes one 
gouty toe turned out ; on the sconces and looking-glasses ; on the 
dogs ; on his lordship*s very crutches ; on his great chair of state 
and the great baldaquin behind him ; under which he sits pointing 
majestically to his pedigree, which shows that his race is sprung from 
the loins of William the Conqueror, and confronting the old Alder- 
man from the City, who has mounted his sword for the occasion, and 
wears his Alderman's chain, and has brought a bag full of money, 
mortgage-deeds, and thousand-pound notes, for the arrangement of 
the transaction pending between them. Whilst the steward (a 
Methodist — therefore a hypocrite and cheat : for Hogarth scorned a 
Papist and a Dissenter,) is negotiating between the old couple, their 
children sit together, united but apart. My lord is admiring his 
countenance in the glass, while his bride is twiddling her marriage 
ring on her pocket-handkerchief, and listening with rueful counten- 
ance to Counsellor Silvertongue, who has been drawing the settlements. 
The girl is pretty, but the painter, with a curious watchfulness, has 
taken care to give her a likeness to her father; as in the young 
Viscount's face you see a resemblance to the Earl, his noble sire. 
The sense of the coronet pervades the picture, as it is supposed to do 
the mind of its wearer. The pictures round the room are sly hints 
indicating the situation of the parties about to marr)'. A martyr is 
led to the fire ; Andromeda is offered to sacrifice ; Judith is going to 
slay Holofemes. There is the ancestor of the house (in the picture 
it is the Earl himself as a young man), with a comet over his head, 
indicating that the career of the family is to be brilliant and brief. 
In the second picture, the old lord must be dead, for Madam has 
now the Countess'^ coronet over her bed and toilet-glass, and sits 
listening to that dangerous Counsellor Silvertongue, whose portrait 
now actually hangs up in her room, whilst the counsellor takes his 
ease on the sofa by her side, evidently the familiar of the house, and 
the confidant of the mistress. My lord takes his pleasure elsewhere 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 295 

than at home, whither he returns jaded and tipsy from the "Rose," to 
find his wife yawning in her drawing-room, her whist-party over, and 
the daylight streaming in ; or he amuses himself with the very worst 
company abroad, whilst his wife sits at home listening to foreign 
singers, or wastes her money at auctions, or, worse still, seeks amuse- 
ment at masquerades. The dismal end is known. My lord draws 
upon the counsellor, who kills him, and is apprehended whilst 
endeavouring to escape. My lady goes back perforce to the Alder- 
man in the City, and faints upon reading Counsellor Silvertongue's 
dying speech at Tyburn, where the counsellor has been executed for 
sending his lordship out of the world. Moral : — Don't listen to evil 
silver-tongued counsellors : don't marry a man for his rank, or a 
woman for her money : don't frequent foolish auctions and masquerade 
balls unknown to your husband: don't have wicked companions 
abroad and neglect your wife, otherwise you will be run through the 
body, and ruin will ensue, and disgrace, and Tyburn. The people 
are all naughty, and Bogey carries them all off. In the "Rake's 
Progress," a loose life is ended by a similar sad catastrophe. It is 
the spendthrift coming into possession of the wealth of the paternal 
miser ; the prodigal surrounded by flatterers, and wasting his substance 
on the very worst company ; the bailiffs, the gambling-house, and 
Bedlam for an end. In the famous story of " Industry and Idleness," 
the moral is pointed in a manner similarly clear. Fair-haired Frank 
Goodchild smiles at his work, whilst naughty Tom Idle snores over 
his loom. Frank reads the edifying ballads of " Whittington " and 
the "London 'Prentice," whilst that reprobate Tom Idle prefers 
" Moll Flanders," and drinks hugely of beer. Frank goes to church 
of a Sunday, and warbles hymns from the gallery ; while Tom lies oh 
a tombstone outside playing at " halfpenny-under-the-hat " with street 
blackguards, and is deservedly caned by the beadle. Frank is made 
overseer of the business, whilst Tom is sent to sea. Frank is taken 
into partnership and marries his master's daughter, sends out broken 
victuals to the poor, and listens in his nightcap and gown, with the 
lovely Mrs. Goodchild by his side, to the nuptial music of the City 



4- 



296 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

m 

bands and the marrow-bones and cleavers ; whilst idle Tom, returned 
from sea, shudders in a garret lest the officers are coming to take him 
for picking pockets. The Worshipful Francis Goodchild, Esq., 
becomes Sheriff of London, and partakes of the most splendid 
dinners which money can purchase or Alderman devour ; whilst pK>or 
Tom is taken up in a night-cellar, with that one-eyed and disreputable 
accomplice who first taught him to play chuck-farthing on a Sunday. 
What happens next ? Tom is brought up before the justice of his 
country, in the person of Mr. Alderman Goodchild, who weeps as he 
recognizes his old brother 'prentice, as Tom's one-eyed friend peaches 
on him, and the clerk makes out the poor rogue's ticket for Newgate. 
Then the end comes. Tom goes to Tyburn in a cart with a coffin in 
it ; whilst the Right Honourable Francis Goodchild, Lord Mayor of 
London, proceeds to his Mansion House, in his gilt coach with four 
footmen and a sword-bearer, whilst the Companies of London march 
in the august procession, whilst the trainbands of the City fire their 
pieces and get drunk in his honour ; and — O crowning delight and 
glory of all — ^whilst his Majesty the King looks out from his ro3raI 
balcony, with his ribbon on his breast, and his Queen and his star by 
his side, at the comer house of St Paul's Churchyard. 

How the times have changed ! The new Post Office now not dis- 
advantageously occupies that spot where the scaffolding is in the 
picture, where the tipsy trainband-man is lurching against the post, 
with his wig over one eye, and the 'prentice-boy is trying to kiss the 
pretty girl in the gallery. Passed away 'prentice-boy and pretty girl ! 
Passed away tipsy trainband-man with wig and bandolier ! On the 
spot where Tom Idle (for whom I have an unaffected pity) made his 
exit from this wicked world, and where you see the hangman smoking 
his pipe as he reclines on the gibbet and views the hills of Harrow or 
Hampstead beyond, a splendid marble arch, a vast and modem city 
— clean, airy, painted drab, populous with nursery-maids and children, 
the abode of wealth and comfort — the elegant, the prosperous, the 
polite Tybumia rises, the most respectable district in the habitable 
globe I 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 297 

In that last plate of the London Apprentices, in which the 
apotheosis of the Right Honourable Francis Goodchild is drawn, a 
ragged fellow is represented in the comer of the simple, kindly piece, 
offering for sale a broadside, purporting to contain an account of the 
appearance of the ghost of Tom Idle, executed at Tyburn. Could 
Tom's ghost have made its appearance in 1847, and not in 1747, what 
changes would have been remarked by that astonished escaped 
criminal ! Over that road which the hangman used to travel 
constantly, and the Oxford stage twice a week, go ten thousand 
carriages every day : over yonder road, by which Dick Turpin fled to 
Windsor, and Squire Western journeyed into town, when he came to 
take up his quarters at the " Hercules Pillars " on the outskirts of 
London, what a rush of civilization and order flows now! What 
armies of gentlemen with umbrellas march to banks, and chambers, 
and counting-houses ! What regiments of nursery-maids and pretty 
infantry ; what peaceful processions of policemen, what light 
broughams and what gay carriages, what swarms of busy apprentices 
and artificers, riding on omnibus-roofs, pass daily and hourly ! Tom 
Idle*s times are quite changed : many of the institutions gone into 
disuse which were admired in his day. There's more pity and kindness 
and a better chance for poor Tom's successors now than at that 
simpler period when Fielding hanged him and Hogarth drew him. 

To the student of history, these admirable works must be invaluable, 
as they give us the most complete and truthful picture of the manners, 
and even the thoughts, of the past century. We look, and see pass 
before us the England of a hundred years ago— the peer in his 
drawing-room, the lady of fashion in her apartment, foreign singers 
surrounding her, and the chamber filled with gewgaws in the mode 
of that day ; the church, with its quaint florid architecture and singing 
congregation ; the parson with his great wig, and the beadle with his 
cane : all these are represented before us, and we are sure of the 
truth of the portrait. We see how the Lord Mayor dines in state ; 
how the prodigal drinks and sports at the bagnio ; how the poor girl 
beats hemp in Bridewell ; how the thief divides his booty and drinks 



298 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

his punch at the night-cellar, and how he finishes his career at the 
gibbet We may depend upon the perfect accuracy of these strange 
and varied portraits of the bygone generation: we see one of 
Walpole's Members of Parliament chaired after his election, and the 
lieges celebrating the event, and drinking confusion to the Pretender : 
we see the grenadiers and trainbands of the City marching out to 
meet the enemy ; and have before us, with sword and firelock, and 
white Hanoverian horse embroidered on the cap, the very figures of 
the men who ran away with Johnny Cope, and who conquered at 
CuUoden. The Yorkshire waggon rolls into the inn yard; the 
country parson, in his jack-boots, and his bands and short cassock, 
comes trotting into town, and we fancy it is Parson Adams, with his 
sermons in his pocket. The Salisbury fly sets forth from the old 
" Angel " — ^you see the passengers entering the great heavy vehicle, up 
the wooden steps, their hats tied down with handkerchiefs over their 
faces, and under their arms, sword, hanger, and case-bottle ; the land- 
lady — apoplectic with the liquors in her ovni bar — is tugging at the 
bell ; the hunchbacked postilion — he may have ridden the leaders to 
Humphrey Clinker — is begging a gratuity ; the miser is grumbling at 
the bill ; Jack of the " Centurion " lies on the top of the clumsy vehicle, 
with a soldier by his side — it may be Smollett's Jack Hatchway — it 
has a likeness to Lismahago. You see the suburban fair and the 
strolling company of actors ; the pretty milkmaid singing under the 
windows of the enraged French musician : it is such a girl as Steele 
charmingly described in the Guardian, a few years before this date, 
singing, under Mr. Ironside's window in Shire Lane, her pleasant carol 
of a May morning. You see noblemen and blacklegs bawling and 
betting in the Cockpit : you see Garrick as he was arrayed in " King 
Richard ; " Macheath and Polly in the dresses which they wore when 
they charmed our ancestors, and when noblemen in blue ribbons sat 
on the stage and listened to their delightful music. You see the 
ragged French soldiery, in their white coats and cockades, at Calais 
Gate : they are of the regiment, very likely, which friend Roderick 
Random joined before he was rescued by his preserver Monsieur de 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 299 

Strap, with whom he fought on the famous day of Dettingen. You 
see the judges on the bench ; the audience laughing in the pit ; the 
student in the Oxford theatre ; the citizen on his country walk ; you 
see Broughton the boxer, Sarah Malcolm the murderess, Simon Lovat 
the traitor, John Wilkes the demagogue, leering at you with that 
squint which has become historical, and that face which, ugly as it 
was, he said he could make as • captivating to woman as the 
countenance of the handsomest beau in town. All these sights and 
people are with you. After looking in the " Rake's Progress " at 
Hogarth's picture of St. James's Palace Gate, you may people the 
street, but little altered within these hundred years, with the gilded 
carriages and thronging chairmen that bore the courtiers your ancestors 
to Queen Caroline's drawing-room more than a hundred years ago. 
What manner of man • was he who executed these portraits — so 

* Hogarth (whose family name was Hogart) was the grandson of a Westmore- 
land yeoman. His father came to London, and was an author and schoolmaster. 
William was bom in 1698 (according to the most probable conjecture) in the 
parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. He was early apprenticed to an engraver of arms 
on plate. The following touches are from his "Anecdotes of Himself." (Edition 
of 1833.)— 

** As I had naturally a good eye, and a fondness for drawing, shows of all sorts 
gave me uncommon pleasure when an infant ; and mimicry, common to all 
children, was remarkable in me. An early access to a neighbouring painter drew 
my attention from play ; and I was, at every possible opportunity, employed in 
making drawings. I picked up an acquaintance of the same turn, and soon learnt 
to draw the alphabet with great correctness. My exercises, when at school, were 
more remarkable for the ornaments which adorned them, than for the exercise 
itself. In the former, I soon found that blockheads with better memories could 
much surpass me ; but for the latter I was particularly distinguished. .... 

" I thought it still more unlikely that by pursuing the common method, and 
copying old drawings, I could ever attain the power of making ntw designs, which 
was my first and greatest ambition. I therefore endeavoured to habituate myself to 
the exercise of a sort of technical memory ; and by repeating in my ov^ti mind the 
parts of which objects were composed, I could by degrees combine and put them 
down with my pencil. Thus, with all the drawbacks which resulted from the cir- 
cumstances I have mentioned, I had one material advantage over my competitors, 
viz. the early habit I thus acquired of retaining in my mind^s eye, without coldly 
copying it on the spot, whatever I intended to imitate. 

** The instant 1 became master of my own time, I determined to qualify myself 



300 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

various, so faithful, and so admirable ? In the National Collection of 
Pictures most of us have seen the best and most carefully finished 

for engraving on copper. In this I readily got employment ; and frontispieces to 
books, such as prints to 'Hudibras,* in twelves, &c., soon brought me into the 
way. But the tribe of booksellers remained as my father had left them .... 
which put me upon publishing on my own account But here again I had to 
encounter a monopoly of printsellers, equally mean and destructive to the ingenious; 
for the first plate I published, called *The Taste of the Town,* in which the 
reigning follies were lashed, had no sooner begun to take a run, than I found 
copies of it in the print-shops, vending at half-price, while the original prints were 
returned to me again, and I was thus obliged to sell the plate for whatever these 
pirates pleased to give me, as there was no place of sale but at their shops. Owing 
to this, and other circumstances, by engraving, until I was near thirty, I could do 
little more than maintain myself ; but even then^ I was a punctual paymaster. 

** I then married, and " 

[But William is going too fast here. He made "a stolen union," on March 23, 
1729, with Jane, daughter of Sir James Thomhill, serjeant-painter. For some 
time Sir James kept his heart and his purse-strings close, but "soon after became 
both reconciled and generous to the young couple."— /^^(OrrM'j Works^ by 
Nichols and Steevens, vol. i. p. 44.] 

** — commenced painter of small Conversation Pieces, from twelve to fifteen 
inches high. This, being a novelty, succeeded for a few years." 

[About this time Hogarth had summer lodgings at South Lambeth, and did 
all kinds of work, ** embellishing" the "Spring Gardens "at "Vauxhall," and 
the like. In 1731, he published a satirical plate against Pope, founded on the 
well-known imputation against him of his having satirised the Duke of Chandos^ 
under the name of Timon^ in his poem on " Taste. " The plate represented a view of 
Burlington House, with Pope whitewashing it, and bespattering the Duke of 
Chandos's coach. Pope made no retort, and has never mentioned Hogarth.] 

** Before I had done anything of much consequence in this walk, I entertained 
some hopes of succeeding in what the puffers in books call The Great Style of 
History Painting; so that without having had a stroke of this grand business 
before, I quitted small portraits and familiar conversations, and with a smile at my 
own temerity, commenced history-painter, and on a great staircase at St. Bartho- 
lomew's Hospital, painted two Scripture stories, the * Pool of Bethesda ' and the 

* Good Samaritan,' with features seven feet high But as religion, the 

great promoter of this style in other countries, rejected it in England, I was 
unwilling to sink into a portrait manufacturer ; and still ambitious of being 
singular, dropped all expectations of advantage from that source, and returned 
to the pursuit of my former dealings with the public at large. 

" As to portrait -painting, the chief branch of the art by which a painter can 
procure himself a tolerable livelihood, and the only one by which a lover of money 
can get a fortune, a man of very moderate talents may have great success in it, as 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDJNG. 301 

series of his comic paintings, and the portrait of his own honest face, 
of which the bright blue eyes shine out from the canvas and give you 

the artifice and address of a mercer is infinitely more useful than the abilities of a 
painter. By the manner in which the present race of professors in England 
conduct it, that also becomes still life." 

HI * * * • 

** By this inundation of folly and puff" (he has been speaking of the success of 
Vanloo^ who came over here in 1737), ** I must confess I was much disgusted, and 
determined to try if by any means I could stem the torrent, and, by opposing^ end it, 
I laughed at the pretensions of these quacks in colouring, ridiculed their produc- 
tions as feeble and contemptible, and asserted that it required neither taste nor 
talents to excel their most popular performances. This interference excited much 
enmity, because, as my opponents told me, my studies were in another way. 
* You talk,' added they, * with ineffable contempt of portrait-painting ; if it is so 
easy a task, why do not you convince the world, by painting a portrait yourself?* 
Provoked at this language, I, one day at the Academy in St. Martin's Lane, put 
the following question : ' Supposing any man, at this time, were to paint a portrait 
as well as Vandyke, would it be seen or acknowledged, and could the artist 
enjoy the benefit or acquire the reputation due to his performance ? * 

** They asked me in reply. If I could paint one as well ? and I frankly answered, 

I believed I could 

** Of the mighty talents said to be requisite for portrait-painting I had not 
the most exalted opinion." 

Let us now hear him on tbe question of the Academy : — 
**To pester the three great estates of the empire, about twenty or thirty 
students drawing after a man or a horse, appears, as must be acknowledged, 
foolish enough : but the real motive is, that a few bustling characters, who have 
access to people of rank, think they can thus get a superiority over their brethren, 
be appointed to places, and have salaries, as in France, for telling a lad when a 

leg or an arm is too long or too short 

*■ *■ France, ever aping the magnificence of other nations, has in its turn assumed 
a foppish kind of splendour sufficient to dazzle the eyes of the neighbouring states, 
and draw vast simis of money from this country. .... 

**To return to our Royal Academy: I am told that one of their leading 
objects will be, sending young men abroad to study the antique statues, for such 
kind of studies may sometimes improve an exalted genius, but they will not create 
it ; and whatever has been the cause, this same travelling to Italy has, in several 
instances that I have seen, reduced the student from nature, and led him to paint 
marble figures, in which he has availed himself of the great works of antiquity, as 
a coward does when he puts on the armour of an Alexander ; for, with similar 
pretensions and similar vanity, the painter supposes he shall be adored as a second 
Raphael Urbino." 

Wc must now hear him on his " Sigismimda : " — 



302 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

an idea of that keen and brave look with which William Hogarth 
regarded the world. No man was ever less of a hero ; you see him 
before you, and can fancy what he was — a jovial, honest London 
citizen, stout and sturdy; a hearty, plain-spoken man,* loving his 

•* As the most violent and virulent abuse thrown on * Sigismunda * was from 
a set of miscreants, with whom I am proud of having been ever at ivar — I mean 
the expounders of the mysteries of old pictures — I have been sometimes told they 
were beneath my notice. This is true of them individually ; but as they have 
access to people of rank, who seem as happy in being cheated as these tnerchants 
are in cheating them, they have a power of doing much mischief to a modem 
artist However mean the vendor of poisons, the mineral is destructive : — to me 
its operation was troublesome enough. Ill nature spreads so fast that now was 
the time for every little dog in the profession to bark ! " 

Next comes a characteristic account of his controversy with Wilkes and 
Churchill. 

"The stagnation rendered it necessary that I should do some timed tking, to 
recover my lost time, and stop a gap in my income. This drew forth my print of 
* The Times,* a subject which tended to the restoration of peace and unanimity, 
and put the opposers of these hxmiane objects in a light which, gave great oflfence 
to those who were trying to foment disaffection in the minds of the popmlace. 
One of the most notorious of them, till now my friend and flatterer, attacked me 
in the North Britotiy in so infamous and malign a style, that he himself^ when 
pushed even by his best friends, was driven to so poor an excuse as to say he was 
drunk when he wrote it. . . . 

" This renowned patriot's portrait, drawn like as I could as to features, and 
marked with some indications of his mind, fully answered my purpose. The 
ridiculous was apparent to every eye ! A Brutus ! A saviour of his country with 
such an aspect — was so arrant a farce, that though it gave rise to much laughter 
in the lookers-on, galled both him and his adherents to the bone. . . . 

** Churchill, Wilkes's toad-echo, put the North Briton into verse, in an Epistle 
to Hogarth ; but as the abuse was precisely the same, except a little poetical 
heightening, which goes for nothing, it made no impression. . * . However, 
having an old plate by me, with some parts ready, such as the back -ground and 
a dog, I began to consider how I could turn so much work laid aside to some 
account, and so patched up a print of Master Churchill in the character of a Bear. 
The pleasure and pecuniary advantage which I derived from these two engravings, 
together with occasionally riding on horseback, restored me to as much health as 
can be expected at my time of life." 

♦ ** It happened in the early part of Hogarth*s life, that a nobleman who was 
uncommonly ugly and deformed came to sit to him for his pictiu%. It was 
executed with a skill that did honour to the artist's abilities ; but the likeness was 
rigidly observed, without even the necessary attention to compliment or flattery. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 303 

laugh, his friend, his glass, his roast-beef of Old England, and having 
a proper bourgeois scorn for French frogs, for mounseers, and wooden 
shoes in general, for foreign fiddlers, foreign singers, and, above all, 
for foreign painters, whom he held in the most amusing contempt. 

It must have been great fun to hear him rage against Correggio 
and the Carracci ; to watch him thump the table and snap his fingers, 
and say, " Historical painters be hanged : here*s the man that will 
paint against any of them for a hundred pounds. Correggio*s 

* Sigismunda ! ' Look at Bill Hogarth's * Sigismunda ; ' look at my 
altar-piece at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol ; look at my * Paul before 
Felix,' and see whether I'm not as good as the best of them." ♦ 

The peer, disgusted at this counterpart of himself, never once thought of paying 
for a reflection that would only disgust him with his deformities. Some time was 
suffered to elapse before the artist applied for his money ; but afterwards many 
applications were made by him (who had then no need of a banker) for payment, 
without success. The painter, however, at last hit upon an expedient. . . . 
It was couched in the following card :— 

" * Mr. Hogarth's dutiful respects to Lord . Finding that he does not 

mean to have the picture which was dravni for him, is informed again of 
Mr. Hogarth's necessity for the i^oney. If, therefore, his Lordship does ijot send 
for it, in three days it will be disposed of, with the addition of a tail, and some 
other little appendages, to Mr. Hare, the famous wild-beast man : Mr. Hogarth 
having given that gentleman a conditional promise of it, for an exhibition-picture, 
on his Lordship's refusaL' 

** This intunation had the desired effect."— W?r^, by Nichols and Steevf.ns, 
vol. L p. 25. 

* "Garrick himself was not more ductile to flattery. A word in favour of 

* Sigismunda' might have commanded a proof-print or forced an original print out 
of our artist's hands. . . ." 

"The following authenticated story of our artist (furnished by the late 
Mr. Belchior, F.R.S., a surgeon of eminence) will also serve to show how much 
more easy it is to detect ill-placed or hyperbolical adulation respecting others, than 
when applied to ourselves. Hogturth, being at dinner with the great Cheselden 
and some other company, was told that Mr. John Freke, suiigeon of St. Bartholo- 
mew's Hospital, a few evenings before at Dick's Coffee- House, had asserted that 
Greene was as eminent in composition as HandeL 'That fellow Freke,' replied 
Hogarth, ' is always shooting his bolt absurdly, one way or another. Handel is a 
giant in music ; Greene only a light Florimel kind of a composer. ' ' Ay,' says our 
artist's informant, ' but at the same time Mr. Freke declared you were as good a 



304 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Posterity has not quite confirmed honest Hogarth*s opinion about 
his talents for the sublime. Although Swift could not see the differ- 
ence between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, posterity has not shared 
the Dean's contempt for Handel ; the world has discovered a differ- 
ence between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, and given a hearty 
applause and admiration to Hogarth, too, but not exactly as a painter 
of scriptural subjects, or as a rival of Correggio. It does not take 
away from one's liking for the man, or from the moral of his story, or 
the humour of it — from one's admiration for the prodigious merit of 
his performances, to remember that he persisted to the last in 
believing that the world was in a conspiracy against him with respect 
to his talents as an historical painter, and that a set of miscreants, as 
he called them, were employed to run his genius down. They say it 
was Liston's firm belief, that he was a great and neglected tragic 
actor ; they say that every one of us believes in his heart, or 
would like to have others believe, that he is something which he is 
not One of the most notorious of the " miscreants," Hogarth says, 
was Wilkes, who assailed him in the North Briton; the other was 
Churchill, who put the North Briton attack into heroic verse, and 
published his " Epistle to Hogarth." Hogarth replied by that 
caricature of Wilkes, in which the patriot still figures before us, with 
his Satanic grin and squint, and by a caricature of Churchill, in which 
he is represented as a bear with a staff, on which, lie the first, lie the 
second — lie the tenth, are engraved in unmistakable letters. There is 
very little mistake about honest Hogarth's satire : if he has to paint a 
man with his throat cut, he draws him with his head almost off ; and 
he tried to do the same for his enemies in this little controversy. 
" Having an old plate by me," says he, " with some parts ready, such 
as the background, and a dog, I began to consider how I could turn 
so much work laid aside to some account, and so patched up a print 
of Master Churchill, in the character of a bear ; the pleasure and 

portrait-painter as Vandyke.* * There he was right,* adds Hogarth, * and so, by 
G— -, I am, give me my time and let me choose my subject* " — IV&rks^ by 
Nichols and Steevens, voL i. pp. 236, 237. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 305 

pecuniary advantage which I derived from these two engravings, 
together with occasionally riding on horseback, restored me to as 
much health as I can expect at my time of life." 

And so he concludes his queer little book of Anecdotes : " I have 
gone through the circumstances of a life which till lately passed pretty 
much to my own satisfaction, and I hope in no respect injurious to 
any other man. This I may safely assert, that I have done my best to 
make those about me tolerably happy, and my greatest enemy cannot 
say I ever did an intentional injury. AVhat may follow, God knows." 

A queer account still exists of a holiday jaunt taken by Hogarth 
and four friends of his, who set out, like the redoubted Mr. Pickwick 
and his companions, but just a hundred years before those heroes ; 
and made an excursion to Gravesend, Rochester, Sheemess, and 
adjacent places.* One of the gentlemen noted down the proceedings 
of the journey, for which Hogarth and a brother artist made drawings. 
The book is chiefly curious at this moment from showing the citizen 
life of those days, and the rough jolly style of merriment, not of the 
five companions merely, but of thousands of jolly fellows of their 
time. Hogarth and his friends, quitting the " Bedford Anns," Covent 
Garden, with a song, took water to Billingsgate, exchanging compli- 
ments with the bargemen as they went down the river. At Billings- 
gate, Hogarth made " a caracatura " of a facetious porter, called the 
Duke of Puddledock, who agreeably entertained the party with the 
humours of the place. Hence they took a Gravesend boat for them- 
selves ; had straw to lie upon, and a tilt over their heads, they say, 
and went down the river at night, sleeping and singing jolly choruses. 

They arrived at Gravesend at six, when they washed their faces 
and hands, and had their wigs powdered. Then they sallied forth for 
Rochester on foot, and drank by the way three pots of ale. At one 
o*clock they went to dinner with excellent port, and a quantity more 
beer, and afterwards Hogarth and Scott played at hopscotch in the 
town hall. It would appear that they slept most of them in one 

* Fie made this excursion iii 1732, his companions being John Thomhill (son 
of Sir James), Scott the landscape-painter, Tothall, and Forrest 

20 



3o6 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

room, and the chronicler of the party describes them all as waking at 
seven o'clock, and telling each other their dreams. You have rough 
sketches by Hogarth of the incidents of this holiday excursion. The 
sturdy little painter is seen sprawling over a plank to a boat at 
Gravesend ; the whole company are represented in one design, in a 
fisherman's room, where they had all passed the night. One gentle- 
man in a nightcap is shaving himself ; another is being shaved by the 
fisherman ; a third, with a handkerchief over his bald pate, is taking 
his breakfast ; and Hogarth is sketching the whole scene. 

They describe at night how they returned to their quarters, drank 
to their friends, as usual, emptied several cans of good flip, all singing 
merrily. 

It is a jolly party of tradesmen engaged at high jinks. These were 
the manners and pleasures of Hogarth, of his time very likely, of men 
not very refined, but honest and merry. It is a brave London 
citizen, with John Bull habits, prejudices, and pleasures.* 

• ** Dr. Johnson made four lines once, on the death of poor Hogarth, which 
were equally true and pleasing ; I know not why Garrick*s were preferretl to 
them : — 

" * The hand of him here torpid lies, 

That drew th* essential forms of grace ; 
Here, closed in death, th* attentive eyes. 
That saw the manners in the face.' 

** Mr. Hogarth, among the variety of kindnesses shown to me when I was too 
young to have a proper sense of them, was used to be very earnest that I should 
obtain the acquaintance, and if possible the friendship, of Dr. Johnson ; whose 
conversation was, to the talk of other men, like Titian's painting compared to 
Hudson's, he said : * but don't you tell people now that I say so,' continued he ; 'for 
the connoisseurs and I are at war, you know ; and because I hate them^ they think 
I hate Titian — and let them ! * . . . Of Dr. Johnson, when my father and he 
were talking about him one day, * That man' says Hogarth, * is not contented with 
believing the Bible ; but he fairly resolves, I think, to believe nothing ^«/ the Bible. 
Johnson, ' added he, * though so wise a fellow, is more like King David than King 
Solomon, for he says in his haste, All mat are liars.* ^*-^Mrs. Piozzi. 

Hogarth died on the 26th of October, 1764. The day before his death, he was 
removed from his villa at Chiswick to Leicester Fields, ** in a very weak condition, 
yet remarkably cheerful" He had just received an agreeable letter from Franklin. 
He lies buried at Chiswick. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 307 

Of Smollett's associates and manner of life the author of the 
admirable " Humphrey Clinker " has given us an interesting account, 
in that most amusing of novels.* 

• "To Sir Watkin Phillips, Bart., of Jesus College, Oxon. 

**Dear Phillips, — In my last, I mentioned my having spent an evening with 
a society of authors, who seemed to be jealous and afraid of one another. My 
uncle was not at all surprised to hear me say I was disappointed in their conversa- 
tion. * A man may be very entertaining and instructive upon paper,* said he, * and 
exceedingly dull in common discourse. I have observed, that those who shine 
most in private company are but secondary stars in the constellation of genius. A 
small stock of ideas is more easily managed, and sooner displayed, than a great 
quantity crowded together. There is very seldom anything extraordinary in the 
appearance and address of a good writer ; whereas a dull author generally distin- 
guishes himself by some oddity or extravagance. For this reason I fancy that an 
assembly of grubs must be very diverting. * 

"My curiosity being excited by this hint, I consulted my friend Dick Ivy, who 
undertook to gratify it the very next day, which was Sunday last He carried me 

to dine with S , whom you and I have long known by his writings. He lives 

in the skirts of the town ; and every Sunday his house is open to all unfortunate 
brothers of the quill, whom he treats with beef, pudding, and potatoes, port, 
punch, and Calvert's entire butt beer. He has fixed upon the first day of the 
week for the exercise of his hospitality, because some of his guests could not enjoy 
it on any other, for reasons that I need not explain. I was civilly received in a 
plain, yet decent habitation, which opened backwards into a very pleasant garden, 
kept in excellent order ; and, indeed, I saw none of the outward signs of author- 
ship either in the house or the landlord, who is one of those few writers of the age 
that stand upon their own foundation, without patronage, and above dependence. 
If there was nothing characteristic in the entertainer, the company made ample 
amends for his want of singularity. 

"At two in the afternoon, I found myself one of ten messmates seated at 
table ; and I question if the whole kingdom could produce such another assem- 
blage of originals. Among their peculiarities, I do not mention those of dress, 
which may be purely accidental. What struck me were oddities originally pro- 
duced by affectation, and afterwards confirmed by habit One of them wore 
spectacles at dinner, and another his hat flapped ; though (as Ivy told me) the fint 
was noted for having a seaman's eye when a bailiff was in the wind ; and the otiier 
was never known to labour under any weakness or defect of vision, ezcq;»t 
five years ago, when he was complimented with a couple of black e3res bf a 
with whom he had quarrelled in his drink. A third wore a laced stockings 
made use of crutches, because, once in his life, he had been laid up with a 
leg, though no man could leap over a stick with more agflity. 
tracted such an antipathy to the country, that he innsted 




3o8 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

I have no doubt that this picture by Smollett is as faithful a one 
as any from the pencil of his kindred humourist, Hogarth. 

back towards the window that looked into the garden ; and when a dish of cauli> 
flower was set upon the table, he snuffed up volatile salts to keep him from fainting; 
yet this delicate person was the son of a cottager, bom under a hedge, and had 
many years run wild among asses on a common. A fifth affected distraction : when 
spoke to, he always answered from the purpose. Sometimes he suddenly started 
up, and rapped out a dreadful oath ; sometimes he burst out a laughing ; then he 
folded his arms, and sighed ; and then he hissed like fifty serpents. 

** At first, I really thought he was mad ; and, as he sat near me, b^;an to be 
under some apprehensions for my own safety; when our landlord, perceiving me 
alarmed, assured me aloud that I had nothing to fear. ' The gentleman,' said he, 
^is trying to act a part for which he is by no means qualified : if he had all the 
inclination in the world, it is not in his power to be mad ; his spirits are too flat to 
be kindled into phrenzy.* * 'Tis no bad p-p-puff, how-owever,* observed a person 
in a tarnished laced coat: *aff-ffected m-madness w-ill p-pass for w- wit w-with 
nine-nineteen out of t-twenty.* * And affected stuttering for humour,* replied our 
landlord ; * though, God knows ! there is no affinity betwixt them. ' It seems this 
wag, after having made some abortive attempts in plain speaking, had recourse to 
this defect, by means of which he frequently extorted the laugh of the compwmy, 
without the least expense of genius ; and that imperfection, which he had at first 
counterfeited, was now become so habitual, that he could not lay it aside. 

" A certain winking genius, who wore yellow gloves at dinner, had, on his first 

introduction, taken such offence at S ^ because, he looked and talked, and ate 

and drank, like any other man, that he spoke contemptuously of his understanding 
ever after, and never would repeat his visit, until he had exhibited the following 
proof of his caprice. Wat Wyvil, the poet, having made some unsuccessful 

advances towards an intimacy with S , at last gave him to understand, by 

a third person, that he had written a poem in his praise, and a satire against 
his person : that if he would admit him to his house, the first should be imme- 
diately sent to press ; but that if he persisted in declining his friendship, he would 

publish the satire without delay. S replied, that he looked upon WyviFs 

panegyric as, in effect, a species of infamy, and would resent it accordingly with a 
good cudgel; but if he published the satire, he might deserve his compassion, and 
had nothing to fear from his revenge. Wyvil having considered the alternative, 

resolved to mortify S by printing the panegyric, for which he received a sound 

drubbing. Then he swore the peace against the aggressor, who, in order to avoid 
a prosecution at law, admitted him to his good graces. It was the singularity in 
S *s conduct on this occasion, that reconciled him to the yellow-gloved philo- 
sopher, who owned he had some genius; and from that period cultivated his 
acquaintance. 

" Curious to know upon what subjects the several talents of my fellow-guests 
were employed, I applied to my communicative friend Dick Ivy, who gave me to 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 309 

We have before us, and painted by his own hand, Tobias Smollett, 
the manly, kindly, honest, and irascible ; worn and battered, but still 

understand that most of them were, or had been, understrappers, or journeymen, 
to more creditable authors, for whom they translated, collated, and compiled, 
in the business of bookmaking ; and that all of them had, at different times, 
laboured in the service of our landlord, though they had now set up for themselves 
in various departments of literature. Not only their talents, but also their nations 
and dialects, were so various, that our conversation resembled the confusion of 
tongues at Babel. We had the Irish brogue, the Scotch accent, and foreign 
idiom, twanged off by the most discordant vociferation ; for as they all spoke 
together, no man had any chance to be heard, unless he could bawl louder than 
his fellows. It must be owned, however, there was nothing pedantic in their 
discourse ; they carefully avoided all learned disquisitions, and endeavoured to be 
facetious : nor did their endeavours always miscarry; some droll repartee passed, 
and much laughter was excited ; and if any individual lost his temper so far as to 
transgress the bounds of decorum, he was effectually checked by the master of the 
feast, who exerted a sort of paternal authority over this irritable tribe. 

** The most learned philosopher of the whole collection, who had been expelled 
the university for atheism, has made great progress In a refutation of Lord Boling- 
broke's metaphysical works, which is said to be equally ingenious and orthodox : 
but, in the meantime, he has been presented to the grand jury as a public nuisance 
for having blasphemed in an alehouse on the Lord*s-day. The Scotchman gives 
lectures on the pronunciation of the English language, which he is now publishing 
by subscription. 

** Tlie Irishman is a political writer, and goes by the name of My Lord Potatoe. 
He wrote a pamphlet in vindication of a Minister, hoping his zeal would be 
rewarded with some place or pension ; but finding himself n^lected in that 
quarter, he whispered about that the pamphlet was written by the Minister him- 
self, and he published an answer to his own production. In this he addressed 
the author under the title of *your lordship,* with such solemnity, that the public 
swallowed the deceit, and bought up the whole impression. The wise politicians 
of the metropolis declared they were both masterly performances, and chuckled 
over the flimsy reveries of an ignorant garrettcer, as the profound speculations of a 
veteran statesman, acquainted with all the secrets of the cabinet The imposture 
was detected in the sequel, and our Hibernian pamphleteer retains no part of his 
assumed importance but the bare title of ' my lord,' and the upper part of the table 
at the potatoe-ordinary in Shoe Lane. 

'* Opposite to me sat a Piedmontese, who had obliged the public with a 
humourous satire, entitled ' The Balance of the English Poets ; ' a performance 
which evinced the great modesty and taste of the author, and, in particular, his 
intimacy with the elegancies of the English language. The sage, who laboured 
under the hypofofiia, or, * horror of green fields,' had just finished a treatise on 
practical agriculture, though, in fact, he had never seen com growing in his life, 



310 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

brave and full of heart, after a long struggle against a hard fortune. 
His brain had been busied with a hundred different schemes ; he had 
been re^dewer and historian, critic, medical writer, poet, pamphleteer. 
He had fought endless literary battles ; and braved and wielded for 
years the cudgels of controversy. It was a hard and savage fight in 
those days, and a niggard pay. He was oppressed by illness, age, 
narrow fortune; but his spirit was still resolute, and his courage 
steady ; the battle over, he could do justice to the enemy with whom 
he had been so fiercely engaged, and give a not unfriendly grasp to 

and was so ignorant of grain, that our entertainer, in the face of the whole com- 
pany, made him own that a plate of hominy was the best rice-pudding he had 
ever eat. 

"The stutterer had almost finished his travels through Europe and part of 
Asia, without ever budging beyond the liberties of the King's Bench, except m 
term-time with a tipstaff for his companion : and as for little Tim Cropdale, the 
most facetious member of the whole society, he had happily wound up the 
catastrophe of a virgin tragedy, from the exhibition of which he promised himself a 
laige fund of profit and reputation. Tim had made shift to live many years by 
writing novels, at the rate of five pounds a volume; but that branch of business is 
now engrossed by female authors, who publish merely for the propagation of 
virtue, with so much ease, and spirit, and delicacy, and knowledge of the human 
heart, and all in the serene tranquillity of high life, that the reader is not only 
enchanted by their genius, but reformed by their morality. 

"After dinner, we adjourned into the garden, where I observed Mr. S 

give a short separate audience to every individual in a small remote filbert-walk, from 
whence most of them dropped off one after another, without further ceremony. " 

Smollett's house was in Lawrence Lane, Chelsea, and is now destroyed. See 
Handbook of London^ ^. 1 15. 

"The person of Smollett was eminently handsome, his features prepossessing, 

and, by the joint testimony of all his surviving friends, his conversation, in the 

highest degree, instructive and amusing. Of his disposition, those who have read 

his works (and who has not?) may form a very accurate estimate ; for in each of 

them he has presented, and sometimes, under various points of view, the leading 

features of his own character without disguising the most unfavourable of them. 

•. When unseduced by his satirical propensities, he was kind, 

generous, and humane to others ; bold, upright, and independent in his own 

character ; stooped to no patron, sued for no favour, but honestly and honourably 

maintained himself on his literary labours. .... lie was a doating father, 

and an affectionate husband ; and the warm zeal with which his memory was 

cherished by his surviving friends showed clearly the reliance which they placed 

upon his regard."— Sir Walter Scott. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 311 

the hand that had mauled him. He is like one of those Scotch 
cadets, of whom history gives us so many examples, and whom, with 
a national fidelity, the great Scotch novelist has painted so charmingly. 
Of gentle birth * and narrow means, going out from his northern 
home to win his fortune in the world, and to fight his way, armed 

* Smollett of Bonhill, in Dumbartonshire. Arms^ azure, a bend, or, between 
a lion rampant, ppr., holding in his paw a banner, argent, and a bugle-horn, 
also ppr. Crcstj an oak-tree, ppr. Motto^ Viresco, 

Smollett's father, Archibald, was the fourth son of Sir James Smollett of 
Bonhill, a Scotch Judge and Member of Parliament, and one of the commissioners 
for framing the Union with England. Archibald married, without the old gentle- 
man's consent, and died early, leaving his children dependent on their grandfather. 
Tobias, the second son, was bom in 1 721, in the old house of Dalquham in the 
valley of Leven ; and all his life loved and admired that valley and Loch Lomond 
beyond all the valleys and lakes in Europe. He learned the ** rudiments" at 
Dumbarton Grammar School, and studied at Glasgow. 

But when he was only eighteen, his grandfather died, and left him without 
provision (figuring as the old judge in "Roderick Random" in consequence, 
according to Sir Walter). Tobias, armed with the "Regicide, a Tragedy" — a 
provision precisely similar to that with which Dr. Johnson had started, just before — 
came up to London. The " Regicide " came to no good, though at first patronized 
by Ix)rd Lyttelton ("one of those little fellows who are sometimes called great 
men," Smollett says) ; and Smollett embarked as " surgeon's mate " on board a 
line-of-battle ship, and served in the Carthagena expedition, in 1 741. He left 
the service in the West Indies, and after residing some time in Jamaica, returned 
to England in 1746. 

He was now unsuccessful as a physician, to begin with ; published the satires, 
"Advice" and "Reproof," without any luck ; and (1747) married the "beau- 
tiful and accomplished Miss Lascelles." 

In 1748 he brought out his " Roderick Random," which at once made a "hit. 
The subsequent events of his life may be presented, chronologically, in a bird's- 
eye view : — 

175a Made a tour to Paris, where he chiefly wrote " Peregrine Pickle." 

1 75 1 . Published * * Peregrine Pickle. " 

1753. Published "Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom." 

1755. Published version of " Don Quixote." 

1756. Began the "Critical Review." 
1758. Published his " History of England." 

1763 — 1766. Travelling in France and Italy ; published his " Travels." 

1769. Published "Adventures of an Atom." 

1770. Set out for Italy; died at Leghorn 21st of Oct, 177 1, in the fifty-first 
year of his age. 



l^ 




314 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

spirits and wit than Congreve or any of his brilliant successors. 
His figure was tall and stalwart; his face handsome, manly, and 
noble-looking ; to the very last days of his life he retained a grandeur 
of air, and, although worn down by disease, his aspect and presence 
imposed respect upon the people round about him. 

A dispute took place between Mr. Fielding and the captain* of the 
ship in which he was making his last voyage, and Fielding relates how 
the man finally went down on his knees and begged his passenger's par- 
don. He was living up to the last days of his life, and his spirit never 
gave in. His vital power must have been immensely strong. Lady Mary 
Wortley Montagu \ prettily characterizes Fielding and this capacity 
for happiness which he possessed, in a littie notice of his death, 

♦ The dispute with the captain arose from the wish of that functionary to 
intrude on his right to his cabin, for which he had paid thirty pounds. After 
recounting the circumstances of the apology, he characteristically adds : — 

** And here, that I may not be thought the sly trumpeter of my own praises, 
I do utterly disclaim all praise on the occasion. Neither did the greatness of my 
mind dictate, nor the force of my Christianity exact this forgiveness. To speak 
truth, I forgave him from a motive which would make men much more forgiving, 
if they were much wiser than they are : because it was convenient for me so 
to do." 

+ Lady Mary was his second-cousin — their respective grandfathers being 
sons of George Fielding, Earl of Desmond, son of William, Earl of Denbigh. 

In a letter dated just a week l>efore his death, she says — 

** H. Fielding has given a true picture of himself and his first wife in the 
characters of Mr. and Mrs, Booth, some compliments to his own figure excepted ; 
and I am persuaded, several of the incidents he mentions are real matters of fact. 
I wonder he does not perceive Tom Jones and Mr. Booth are sorry scoundrels. 
. . . . Fielding has really a fund of true humour, and was to be pitied at his 
first entrance into the world, having no choice, as he said himself, but to be a 
hackney writer or a hackney coachman. His genius deserved a better fate ; but 
I cannot help blaming that continued indiscretion, to give it the softest name, that 
has run through his life, and I am afraid still remains. .... Since I was. 
bom no original has appeared exceptuig Congreve, and Fielding, who would, I 
believe, have approached nearer to his excellences, if not forced by his necessities 
to publish without correction, and throw many productions into the world he would 
have thrown into the fire, if meat could have been got without money, or money 

without scribbling I am sorry not to see any more of Peregrine 

Pickle's performances ; I wish you would tell me his name."— Z<r/'/^j and Workf 
(Lord Wharncliffe's Ed.), voL iiL p. 93, 94. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 31$ 

when she compares him to Steele, who was as improvident and as 
happy as he was, and says that both should have gone on living for 
ever. One can fancy the eagerness and gusto with which a man of 
Fielding's frame, with his vast health and robust appetite, his ardent 
spirits, his joyful humour, and his keen and hearty relish for life, 
must have seized and drunk that cup of pleasure which the town 
offered to him. Can any of my hearers remember the youthful feats 
of a college breakfast — the meats devoured and the cups quaffed in 
that Homeric feast ? I can call to mind some of the heroes of those 
youthful banquets, and fancy young Fielding from Leyden rushing 
upon the feast, with his great laugh and immense healthy young 
appetite, eager and vigorous to enjoy. The young man's wit and 
manners made him friends everywhere : he lived with the grand 
Man's society of those days ; he was courted by peers and men of 
wealth and fashion. As he had a paternal allowance from his father, 
General Fielding, which, to use Henry's own phrase, any man might 
pay who would; as he liked good wine, good clothes, and good 
company, which are all expensive articles to purchase, Harry 
Fielding began to run into debt, and borrow money in that easy 
manner in which Captain Booth borrows money in the novel : was in 
nowise particular in accepting a few pieces from the purses of his 
rich friends, and bore down upon more than one of them, as Walpole 
tells us only too truly, for a dinner or a guinea. To supply himself 
with the latter, be began to write theatrical pieces, having already, 
no doubt, a considerable acquaintance amongst the Oldfields and 
Bracegirdles behind the scenes. He laughed at these pieces and 
scorned them. When the audience upon one occasion began to hiss 
a scene which he was too lazy to correct, and regarding which, when 
Garrick remonstrated with him, he said that the public was too stupid 
to find out the badness of his work : when the audience began to 
hiss, Fielding said, with characteristic coolness — " They have found 
it out, have they ? " He did not prepare his novels in this way, and 
with a very different care and interest laid the foundations and built 
up the edifices of his future fame. 




3i6 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

Time and shower have very little damaged those. The fashion 
and ornaments are, perhaps, of the architecture of that age ; but the 
buildings remain strong and lofty, and of admirable proportions — 
masterpieces of genius and monuments of workmanlike skilL 

I cannot offer or hope to make a hero of Harry Fielding. WTiy 
hide his faults? Why conceal his weaknesses in a cloud of peri- 
phrases? Why not show him, like him as- he is, not robed in a 
marble toga, and draped and polished in an heroic attitude, but with 
inked ruffles, and claret-stains on his tarnished laced coat, and on 
his manly face the marks of good-fellowship, of illness, of kindness, 
of care, and wine. Stained as you see him, and worn by care and 
dissipation, that man retains some of the most precious and splendid 
human qualities and endowments. He has an admirable natural love 
of truth, the keenest instinctive antipathy to hypocrisy, the happiest 
satirical gift of laughing it to scorn. His wit is wonderfully wise and 
detective ; it flashes upon a rogue and lightens up a rascal like a 
policeman's lantern. He is one of the manliest and kindliest of 
human beings : in the midst of all his imperfections, he respects 
female innocence and infantine tenderness, as you would suppose 
such a great-hearted, courageous soul would respect and care for 
them. He could not be so brave, generous, truth-telling as he is, 
were he not infinitely merciful, pitiful, and tender. He will give any 
man his purse — he can't help kindness and profusion. He may 
have low tastes, but not a mean mind ; he admires with all his heart 
good and virtuous men, stoops to no flattery, bears no rancour, 
disdains all disloyal arts, does his public duty uprightly, is fondly 
loved by his family, and dies at his work.* 

* He sailed for Lisbon, from Gravesend, on Sunday morning, June 30th, 
1754; and began "The Journal of a Voyage" during the passage. He died at 
Lisbon, in the beginning of October of the same year. He lies buried there, in 
the English Protestant churchyard, near the Estrella Church, with this inscription 
over him : — 

"HENRICUS FIELDING. 

LUGET BRITANNIA GREMIO NON DATUM 

FOVERE NATUM." 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING, 31? 

If that theory be — and I have no doubt it is — the right and safe 
one, that human nature is always pleased with the spectacle of 
innocence rescued by fidelity, purity, and courage; I suppose that 
of the heroes of Fielding's three novels, we should like honest 
Joseph Andrews the best, and Captain Booth the second, and Tom 
Jones the third.* 

Joseph Andrews, though he wears Lady Booby's cast-off livery, is, 
I think, to the full as polite as Tom Jones in his fustian-suit, or 
Captain Booth in regimentals. He has, like those heroes, large 
calves, broad shoulders, a high courage, and a handsome face. The 
accounts of Joseph's bravery and good qualities; his voice, too 
musical to halloo to the dogs ; his bravery in riding races for the 
gentlemen of the county, and his constancy in refusing bribes and 
temptation, have something affecting in their tiaiveit and freshness, 
and prepossess one in favour of that handsome young hero. The 
rustic bloom of Fanny, and the delightful simplicity of Parson 
Adams, are described with a friendliness which wins the reader of 
their story; we part from them with more regret than from Booth 
and Jones. 

Fielding, no doubt, began to write this novel in ridicule of 
** Pamela," for which work one can understand the hearty contempt 
and antipathy which such an athletic and boisterous genius as 
Fielding's must have entertained. He couldn't do otherwise than 
laugh at the puny cockney bookseller, pouring out endless volumes 
of sentimental twaddle, and hold him up to scorn as a mollcoddle 
and a milksop. His genius had been nursed on sack-posset, and 
not on dishes of tea. His muse had sung the loudest in tavern 
choruses, had seen the daylight streaming in over thousands of 
emptied bowls, and reeled home to chambers on the shoulders of 
the watchman. Richardson's goddess was attended by old maids 
and dowagers, and fed on muffins and bohea. " Milksop ! " roars 
Harry Fielding, clattering at the timid shop-shutters. " Wretch ! 

♦ Fielding himself is said by Dr. Warton to have preferred "Joseph Andrews'* 
to his other writings. 



31 8 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Monster ! Mohock ! " shrieks the sentimental author of " Pamela ;"* 
and all the ladies of his court cackle out an affrighted chorus. 
Fielding proposes to write a book in ridicule of the author, whom 
he disliked and utterly scorned and laughed at ; but he is himself of 
so generous, jovial, and kindly a turn that he begins to like the 
characters which he invents, can't help making them manly and 
pleasant as well as ridiculous, and before he has done with them all, 
loves them heartily every one. 

Richardson's sickening antipathy for Harry Fielding is quite as 
natural as the other's laughter and contempt at the sentimentalist I 
have not learned that these likings and dislikings have ceased in the 
present day : and every author must lay his account not only to 
misrepresentation, but to honest enmity among critics, and to bemg 
hated and abused for good as well as for bad reasons. Richardson 
disliked Fielding's works quite honestly: Walpole quite honestly 
spoke of them as vulgar and stupid. Their squeamish stomachs 
sickened at the rough fare and the rough guests assembled at 
Fielding's jolly revel. Indeed the cloth might have been cleaner : 
and the dinner and the company were scarce such as suited a dandy. 
The kind and wise old Johnson would not sit down with him.t But 
a greater scholar than Johnson could afford to admire that astonishing 
genius of Harry Fielding : and we all know the lofty panegyric which 
Gibbon wrote of him, and which remains a towering monument to 

♦ " Richardson," says worthy Mrs. Barbauld, in her Memoir of him, prefixed 
to his Correspondence, **was exceedingly hurt at this ('Joseph Andrews '), the 
more so as they had been on good terms, and he was very intimate with Fielding's 
two sisters. He never appears cordially to have forgiven it (perhaps it was not in 
human nature he should), and he always speaks in his letters with a great deal of 
asperity of * Tom Jones,' more indeed than was quite graceful in a rival author. 
No doubt he himself thought his indignation was solely excited by the loose 
morality of the work and of its author, but he could tolerate Gibber." 

+ It must always be borne in mind, that besides that the Doctor couldn't be 
expected to like Fielding's wild life (to say nothing of the fact that they were of 
opposite sides in politics), Richardson was one of his earliest and kindest 
friends. Yet Johnson too (as Boswell tells us) read "Amelia" through without 
stopping. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 319 

the great novelist's memory. "Our immortal Fielding," Gibbon 
writes, " was of the younger branch of the Earls of Denbigh, who 
drew their origin from the Counts of Hapsbuigh. The successors of 
Charles V. may disdain their brethren of England : but the romance 
of * Tom Jones,' that exquisite picture of human manners, will outlive 
the palace of the Escurial and the Imperial Eagle of Austria." 

There can be no gainsaying the sentence of this great judge. To 
have your name mentioned by Gibbon, is like having it written 
on the dome of St Peter's. Pilgrims from all the world admire and 
behold it 

As a picture of manners, the novel of "Tom Jones "is indeed 
exquisite : as a work of construction quite a wonder : the by-play of 
wisdom ; the power of observation ; the multiplied felicitous turns 
and thoughts ; the varied character of the great Comic Epic : keep 
the reader in a perpetual admiration and curiosity.* But against 
Mr. Thomas Jones himself we have a right to put in a protest, and 
quarrel with the esteem the author evidently has for that character. 
Charles Lamb says finely of Jones, that a single hearty laugh from 
him " clears the air " — but then it is in a certain state of the 
atmosphere. It might clear the air when such personages as Blifil or 
Lady Bellaston poison it But I fear very much that (except until 
the very last scene of the story), when Mr. Jones enters Sophia's 

• ** Manners change from generation to generation, and with manners morals 
appear to change — actually change with some, but appear to change with all but 
the abandoned. A young man of the present day who should act as Tom Jones 
is supposed to act at Upton, with Lady Bellaston, &c. would not be a Tom Jones ; 
and a Tom Jones of the present day, without perhaps being in the ground a better 
man, would have perished rather than submit to be kept by a harridan of fortune. 
Therefore, this novel is, and indeed pretends to be, no example of conduct. But, 
notwithstanding all this, I do loathe the cant which can recommend 'Pamela' 
and * Clarissa Harlowe * as strictly moral, although they poison the imagination 
of the young with continued doses of tinct. lytUe, while Tom Jones is prohibited as 
loose. I do not speak of young women ; but a young man whose heart or feelings 
can be injured, or even his passions excited by this novel, is already thoroughly 
corrupt. There is a cheerful, sunshiny, breezy spirit, that prevails everywhere, 
strongly contrasted with the close, hot, day-dreamy continuity of Richardson." — 
Coleridge : Literary Remains, vol. iL p. 374. 



320 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

drawing-room, the pure air there is rather tainted with the young 
gentleman's tobacco-pipe and punch. I can't say that I think 
Mr. Jones a virtuous character; I can't say but that I think 
Fielding's evident liking and admiration for Mr. Jones shows that 
tlie great humourist's moral sense was blunted by his life, and that 
here, in Art and Ethics, there is a great error. If it is right to have 
a hero whom we may admire, let us at least take care that he is 
admirable: if, as is the plan of some authors (a plan decidedly 
against their interests, be it said), it is propounded that there exists 
in life no such being, and therefore that in novels, the picture of life, 
there should appear no such character; then Mr. Thomas Jones 
becomes an admissible person, and we examine his defects and good 
qualities, as we do those of Parson Thwackum, or Miss SeagrinL 
But a hero with a flawed reputation ; a hero spunging for a guinea ; 
a hero who can't pay his landlady, and is obliged to let his honour 
out to hire, is absurd, and his claim to heroic rank untenable. I 
protest against Mr. Thomas Jones holding such rank at all. I protest 
even against his being considered a more than ordinary young fellow, 
ruddy-cheeked, broad-shouldered, and fond of wine and pleasure. 
He would not rob a church, but that is all; and a pretty long 
argument may be debated, as to which of these old types, the spend- 
thrift, the hypocrite, Jones and Blifil, Charles and Joseph Surface, — 
is the worst member of society and the most deserving of censure. 
The prodigal Captain Booth is a better man than his predecessor 
Mr. Jones, in so far as he thinks much more humbly of himself than 
Jones did : goes down on his knees, and owns his weaknesses, and 
cries out, " Not for my sake, but for the sake of my pure and sweet 
and beautiful wife Amelia, I pray you, O critical reader, to forgive 
me." That stern moralist regards him from the bench (the judge's 
practice out of court is not here the question), and says, " Captain 
Booth, it is perfectly true that your life has been disreputable, and 
that on many occasions you have shown yourself to be no better than 
a scamp — you have been tippling at the tavern, when the kindest and 
sweetest lady in the world has cooked your little supper of boiled 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING, 321 

mutton and awaited you sill the night ; you have spoilt the little dish 
of boiled mutton thereby, and caused pangs and pains to Amelia's 
tender heart.* You have got into debt without the means of paying 
it. You have gambled the money with which you ought to have 
paid your rent. You have spent in drink or in worse amusements the 
sums which your poor wife has raised upon her little home treasures, 
her own ornaments, and the toys of her children. But, you rascal ! 
you own humbly that you are no better than you should be ; you 
never for one moment pretend that you are anything but a miserable 
weak-minded rogue. You do in your heart adore that angelic woman, 
your wife, and for her sake, sirrah, you shall have your discharge. 
Lucky for you and for others like you, that in spite of your failings 
and imperfections, pure hearts pity and love you. For your wife's 
sake you are permitted to go hence without a remand ; and I beg 

* ** Nor was she (Lady Mary Wortley Montagu) a stranger to that beloved first 
wife, whose picture he drew in his * Amelia,* when, as she said, even the glowing 
language he knew how to employ, did not do more than justice to the amiable 
qualities of the original, or to her beauty, although this had suffered a little from 
the accident related in the novel— a frightful overturn, which destroyed the gristle 
of her nose. He loved her passionately, and she returned his affection. . . . 

"His biographers seem to have been shy of disclosing that, after the death of 
this charming woman, he married her maid. And yet the act was not so dis- 
creditable to his character as it may sound. The maid had few personal charms, 
but was an excellent creature, devotedly attached to her mistress, and almost 
broken-hearted for her loss. In the first agonies of his own grief, which approached 
to frenzy, he found no relief but from weeping along with her ; nor solace when a 
degree calmer, but in talking to her of the angel they mutually regretted. This 
made her his habitual confidential associate, and in process of time he began to 
think he could not give his children a tenderer mother, or secure for himself a more 
faithful housekeeper and nurse. At least, this was what he told his friends ; and 
it is certain that her conduct as his wife confirmed it, and fully justified his good 
opinion. " — Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Edited by Lord 
Wharncliffe. Introductory Anecdotes^ vol. i. pp. 80, 81. 

Fielding's first wife was Miss Craddock, a young lady from Salisbury, with a 
fortune of i,5c»/., whom he married in 1736. About the same time he succeeded, 
himself, to an estate of 2CX>/. per annum, and on the joint amount he lived for 
some time as a splendid country gentleman in Derbyshire. Three years brought 
him to the end of his fortune ; when he returned to London, and became a student 
of law. 

21 



322 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

you, by the way, to cany to that angelical lady the expression of the 
cordial respect and admiration of this court" Amelia pleads for ber 
husband. Will Booth: Amelia pleads for her reckless kindly old 
father, Harry Fielding. To have invented that character, is not only 
a triumph of art, but it is a good action. They say it was in his own 
home that Fielding knew her and loved her : and from his own wife 
that he drew the most charming character in English fiction. 
Fiction ! why fiction? why not history? I know Amelia just as well 
as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. I believe in Colonel Bath almost 
as much as in Colonel Gardiner or the Duke of Cumberland. I 
admire the author of "Amelia," and thank the kind master who 
introduced me to that sweet and delightful companion and friend. 
"Amelia" perhaps is not a better story than "Tom Jones," but it has 
the better ethics ; the prodigal repents at least, before forgiveness, — 
whereas that odious broad-backed Mr. Jones carries oft* his beaut}" 
wuth scarce an interval of remorse for his manifold errors and short- 
comings ; and is not half punished enough before the great prize of 
fortune and love falls to his share. I am angry with Jones. Too 
much of the plum-cake and rewards of life fall to that boisterous, 
swaggering young scapegrace. Sophia actually surrenders without a 
proper sense of decorum ; the fond, foolish, palpitating little creature ! 
— " Indeed, Mr. Jones," she says, — " it rests with you to appoint the 
day." I suppose Sophia is drawTi from life as well as Amelia ; and 
many a young fellow, no better than Mr. Thomas Jones, has carried 
by a coup de main the heart of many a kind girl who was a great deal 
too good for him. 

What a wonderful art ! What an admirable gift of nature was it 
by which the author of these tales was endowed, and which enabled 
him to f).y. our interest, to waken our sympathy, to seize upon our 
credulity, so that we believe in his people — speculate gravely upon 
their faults or their excellences, prefer this one or that, deplore 
Jones's fondness for drink and play, Booth's fondness for play and 
drink, and the unfortunate position of the wives of both genUemen — 
love and admire those ladies with all our hearts, and talk about them 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 323 

as faithfully as if we had breakfasted with them this morning in their 
actual drawing-rooms, or should meet them this afternoon in the 
Park ! What a genius ! what a vigour ! what a bright-eyed intelli- 
gence and observation ! what a wholesome hatred for meanness and 
knavery ! what a vast sympathy ! what a cheerfulness ! what a manly 
relish of life ! what a love of human kind ! what a poet is here ! — 
watching, meditating, brooding, creating ! What multitudes of truths 
has that man left behind him ! What generations he has taught 
to laugh wisely and fairly! What scholars he has formed and 
accustomed to the exercise of thoughtful humour and the manly 
play of wit ! What a courage he had ! What a daimtless and 
constant cheerfulness of intellect, that burned bright and steady 
through all the storms of his life, and never deserted its last 
wreck ! It is wonderful to think of the pains and misery which 
the man suffered j the pressure of want, illness, remorse which he 
endured ; and that the writer was neither malignant nor melancholy, 
his view of truth never warped, and his generous human kindness 
never surrendered.* 

• In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1786, an anecdote is related of Harry 
Fielding, ** in whom," says the correspondent, "good-nature and philanthropy in 
their extreme degree were known to be the prominent features." It seems that 
"some parochial taxes" for his house in Beaufort Buildings had long been 
demanded by the collector. " At last, Harry went off to Johnson, and obtained 
by a process of literary mortgage the needful sum. He was returning with it, 
when he met an old college chum whom he had not seen for many years. He 
asked the chimi to dinner with him at a neighbouring tavern ; and learning that he 
was in difficulties, emptied the contents of his pocket into his. On returning 
home he was informed that the collector had been twice for the money. * Friend- 
ship has called for the money and had it,' said Fielding; ' let the collector call 

• f If 
agam. 

It is elsewhere told of him, that being in company with the Earl of Denbigh, 
his kinsman, and the conversation turning upon their relationship, the Earl asked 
him how it was that he spelled his name " Fielding,'* and not " Feilding," like the 
head of the house? "I cannot tell, my lord,'* said he, "except it be that my 
branch of the family were the first that knew how to spell.*' 

In 1749, he was made Justice of the Peace for Westminster and Middlesex, 
an office then paid by fees, and very laborious, without being particularly reputable. 
It may be seen from his own words, in the Introduction to the " Voyage," what 



324 ' ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

In the quarrel mentioned before, which happened on Fieldingfs 
last voyage to Lisbon, and when the stout captain of the ship fell 

kind of work devolved upon him, and in what a state he was, during these last 
years ; and still more clearly, how he comported himself through all. 

** Whilst I was preparing for my journey, and when I was almost fatigued to 
death with several long examinations, relating to five different murders, all com- 
mitted within the space of a week, by different gangs of street-robbers, I received 
a message from his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, by Mr. Carrington, the King's 
messenger, to attend his Grace the next morning in Lincoln's Inn Fields, upton some 
business of importance : but I excused myself from complying with the message, 
as, besides being lame, I was very ill with the great fatigues I had lately undergone, 
added to my distemper. 

** His Grace, however, sent Mr. Carrington the very next morning, with another 
summons ; with which, though in the utmost distress, I immediately complied ; but 
the Duke happening, unfortunately for me, to be then particularly engaged, after I 
had waited some time, sent a gentleman to discourse with me on the best plan 
which could be invented for these murders and robberies, which were every day 
committed in the streets; upon which I promised to transmit my opinion in writing 
to his Grace, who, as the gentleman informed me, intended to lay it before the 
Privy Council. 

"Though this visit cost me a severe cold, I, notwithstanding, set myself down 
to work, and in about four days sent the Duke as r^ular a plan as I could form, 
with all the reasons and arguments I could bring to support it, drawn out on 
several sheets of paper ; and soon received a message from the Duke, by Mr. Car- 
rington, acquainting me that my plan was highly approved of, and that all the 
terms of it would be complied with. 

** The principal and most material of these terms was the immediately deposit- 
ing 600/. in my hands ; at which small charge I undertook to demolish the then 
reigjiing gangs, and to put the civil policy into such order, that no such gangs 
should ever be able for the future to form themselves into bodies, or at least to 
remain any time formidable to the public. 

** I had delayed my Bath journey for some time, contrary to the repeated advice 
of my physical acquaintances and the ardent desire of my warmest friends, though 
my distemper was now turned to a deep jaundice ; in which case the Bath waters 
are generally reputed to be almost infallible. But I had the most eager desire to 
demolish this gang of villains and cut-throats. 

" After some weeks the money was paid at the Treasury, and within a few 
days after 200/. of it had come into my hands, the whole gang of cut-throats was 
entirely dispersed " 

Further on, he says — 

** I will confess that my private affairs at the b^inning of the winter had but 
a gloomy aspect ; for I had not plundered the public or the poor of those sums 
which men, who are always ready to plunder both as much as they can, have been 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 325 

do>vn on his knees and asked the sick man's pardon — "I did not 
suffer," Fielding says, in his hearty, manly way, his eyes lighting up 
as it were with their old fire — " I did not suffer a brave man and an 
old man to remain a moment in that posture, but immediately forgave 
him." Indeed, I think, with his noble spirit and unconquerable 
generosity, Fielding reminds one of those brave men of whom one 
reads in stories of English shipwrecks and disasters — of the officer on 
the African shore, when disease has destroyed the crew, and he 
himself is seized by fever, who throws the lead with a death-stricken 
hand, takes the soundings, carries the ship out of the river or off the 
dangerous coast, and dies in the manly endeavour — of the wounded 
captain, when the vessel founders, who never loses his heart, who 
eyes the danger steadily, and has a cheery word for all, until the 
inevitable fate overwhelms him, and the gallant ship goes down. 
Such a brave and gentle heart, such an intrepid and courageous 
spirit, I love to recognize in the manly, the English Harry Fielding. 

pleased to suspect me of taking ; on the conti'ary, by composing, instead of inflam- 
ing, the quarrels of porters and b^gars (which I blush when I say hath not been 
universally practised), and by refusing to take a shilling from a man who most 
imdoubtedly would not have had another left, I had reduced an income of about 
500/. a year of the dirtiest money upon earth, to little more than 300/., a con- 
siderable portion of which remained^with my clerk." 



r 



EKGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 

ROGER STERNE, Sterne's father, was the second son of 
numerous race, descendants of Richard Steme, Arcbbish 
of York, in the reign of James II, ; and children of Simon Steme a 
Mary Jaques, his wife, heiress of Elvington, near York.* Roger n 
a lieutenant in Handyside's regiment, and engaged in Flanders 
Queen Anne's wars. He married the daughter of a noted suder 
*' N.B., he was in debt to him," his son writes, pursuing the paten 
biography — and marched through the world with this companio 
she following the regiment and bringing many children to poor R<^ 
Sterne. The captain was an irascible but kind and simple little ms 
Steme says, and informs us that his sire was run through the body 
Gibraltar, by a brother officer, in a duel which arose out of a dispu 
about a goose. Roger never entirely recovered from the effects 
this rencontre, but died presently at Jamaica, whither he had follow 
the drum. 

Laurence, his second child, was bom at Clonmel, in Ireland, i 
1713, and travelled, for the first ten years of his hfe, on his fathet 
march, from barrack to transport, from Ireland to England.f 

One relative of his mother's took her and her family under shelti 
for ten months at Mullingar; another collateral descendant of th 
Archbishop's housed them for a year at his castle near Carrickfergu; 

• Hf came of a Suffolk family — one of whom settled in NottinEhamshire. Tl 
famous " starling " was actually the family crest. 

t " II was i:i this jKirish (of Anirao, in Wicklow), during our stay, that I ha 
that wontleriul escape in falling llirough a mill-race, whilst Ihe mill was going, an 
of being taken up uuliurl ; the story is incredible, liut known for Irulh in all Ih: 
part of Ireland, where hundreds of ihe common people flocked to see me."- 
Stf.rmb. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH, 327 

Lany Sterne was put to school at Halifax in England, finally was 
adopted by his kinsman of Elvington, and parted company with his 
father, the Captain, who marched on his path of life till he met the 
fatal goose, which closed his career. The most picturesque and 
delightful parts of Laurence Steme*s writings, we owe to his recol- 
lections of the military life. Trim's montero cap, and Le Fevre's 
sword, and dear Uncle Toby's roquelaure, are doubtless reminiscences 
of the boy, who had lived with the followers of William and Marl- 
borough, and had beat time with his little feet to the fifes of Ramillies 
in Dublin barrack-yard, or played with the torn flags and halberds of 
Malplaquet on the parade-ground at Clonmel. 

Laurence remained at Halifax school till he was eighteen years 
old. His wit and cleverness appear to have acquired the respect of 
his master here ; for when the usher whipped Laurence for writing 
his name on the newly whitewashed school-room ceiling, the peda- 
gogue in chief rebuked the understrapper, and said that the name 
should never be effaced, for Sterne was a boy of genius, and would 
come to preferment. 

His cousin, the Squire of Elvington, sent Sterne to Jesus College, 
Cambridge, where he remained five years, and taking orders, got, 
tlirough his uncle's interest, the living of Sutton and the prebendary 
of York. Through his wife's connections, he got the living of 
Stiltington. He married her in 1741 ; having ardently courted the 
young lady for some years previously. It was not until the young 
lady fancied herself dying, that she made Sterne acquainted with the 
extent of her liking for him. One evening when he was sitting with 
her, Avith an almost broken heart to see her so ill (the Rev. 
Mr. Sterne's heart was a good deal broken in the course of his life), 
she said — "My dear Laurey, I never can be yours, for I verily 
believe I have not long to live ; but I have left you every shilling of 
my fortune : " a generosity which overpowered Sterne. She recovered : 
and so they were married, and grew heartily tired of each other 
before many years were over. " Nescio quid est materia cum me," 
Sterne writes to one of his friends (in dog-Latin, and very sad dog- 



328 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Latin too) ; " seel sum fatigatus et aegrotus de mei uxore plus quam 
unquam ; " which means, I am sorry to say, " I don't know what 
is the matter with me : but I am more tired and sick of my wife 
than ever." • 

This to be sure was five-and-twenty years after I^urey had been 
overcome by her generosity and she by Laurey's love. Then he 
wrote to her of the delights of marriage, saying, "We will be as 
merry and as innocent as our first parents in Paradise, before the 
arch fiend entered that indescribable scene. The kindest affections 
will have room to expand in our retirement : let the human tempest 
and hurricane rage at a distance, the desolation is beyond the horizon 
of peace. My L. has seen a polyanthus blow in December ? — Some 
friendly wall has sheltered it from the biting wind. No planetar)' 
influence shall reach us, but that which presides and cherishes the 
sweetest flowers. The gloomy family of care and distrust shall he 
banished from our dwelling, guarded by thy kind and tutelar deity. 
VVe will sing our choral songs of gratitude and rejoice to the end of 
our pilgrimage. Adieu, my L. Return to one who languishes for 
thy society ! — As I take up my pen, my poor pulse quickens, my 
pale face glows, and tears are trickling down on my paper as I trace 
the word L." 

And it is about this woman, with whom he finds no fault but 
that she bores him, that our philanthropist writes, " Sum fatigatus et 
xegrotus " — Sum morialiter in amore with somebody else ! That fine 
flower of love, that polyanthus over which Sterne snivelled so many 
tears, could not last for a quarter of a century ! 

Or rather it could not be expected that a gentleman with such a 
fountain at command should keep it to arroser one homely old lady, 
when a score of younger and prettier people might be refreshed from 

♦ *' My wife returns to Toulouse, and proposes to pass the summer at 
Blgnaeres. I, on the contrary, go and visit my wife, the church, in Yorkshire. 
We all live the longer, at least the happier, for having things our own way; this is 
my conjugal maxim. I own 'tis not the best of maxims, but I maintain 'tis not 
the worst."— Sterne's Z^//<7-j; 20th January, 1764. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH, 329 

the same gushing source.* It was in December, 1767, that the 
Rev. Laurence Sterne, the famous Shandean, the charming Yorick, the 
dehght of the fashionable world, the delicious divine, for whose sermons 
the whole polite world was subscribing,"f the occupier of Rabelais's 

* In a collection of "Seven Letters by Sterne and his Friends" (printed for 
private circulation in 1 844), is a letter of M. Tolloi, who was in France with 
Sterne and his family in 1764. Here is a paragraph : — 

** Nous arrivdmes le lendemain b. Montpellier, oil nous trouvames notre ami 
Mr. Sterne, sa femme, sa fille, Mr. Huet, et quelques autres Anglaises. J'eus, je 

vous I'avoue, beaucoup de plaisir en revoyant le bon et agreable Tristram 

II avait etc assez longtemps k Toulouse, ou il se serait amuse sans sa femme, qui le 
poursuivit partout, et qui voulait etre de tout. Ces dispositions dans cette bonne 
dame lui ont fait passer d'assez mauvais momens ; il supporte tous ces desagremens 
avec une patience d'ange." 

About four months after this very characteristic letter, Sterne wrote to the same 
gentleman to whom Tollot had written ; and from his letter we may extract a 
companion paragraph : — 

** All which being premised, I have been for eight weeks 

smitten with the tenderest passion that ever tender wight underwent. I wish, dear 
cousin, thou could*st conceive (perhaps thou canst without my wishing it) how 
deliciously I cantered away with it the first month, two up, two down, always upon 
my hanchesj along the streets from my hotel to hers, at first once.— then twice, then 
three times a day, till at length I was within an ace of setting up my hobby-horse 
in her stable for good and all. I might as well, considering how the enemies of 
the Lord have blasphemed thereupon. The last three weeks we were every hour 
upon the doleful ditty of parting ; and thou may'st conceive, dear cousin, how it 
altered my gait and air : for I went and came like any louden'd carl, and did 
nothing hyxKjouer des sentimens with her from sun-rising even to the setting of the 
same ; and now she is gone to the south of France ; and to finish the comedie, 
I fell ill, and broke a vessel in my lungs, and half bled to death. Voili mon 
histoire ! " 

Whether husband or wife had most of the *^ patience (fattge^^ may be uncer- 
tain; but there can be no doubt which needed it most ! 

t *' * Tristram Shandy* is still a greater object of admiration, the man as well 
as the book : one is invited to dinner, when he dines, a fortnight before. As to 
the volumes yet published, there is much good fun in them and humour sometimes 
hit and sometimes missed. Have you read his 'Sermons,' with his own comick 
figure, from a painting by Reynolds, at the head of them ? They are in the style 
I think most proper for the pulpit, and show a strong imagination and a sensible 
heart; but you see him often tottering on the verge of laughter, and ready to throw 
his j>eriwig in the face of the audience." — Gray's Letters : June 22ndj 1760. 

" It having been observed that there was little hospitality in London — 



330 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

easy chair, only fresh stuffed and more elegant than when in posses- 
sion of the cynical old curate of Meudon,* — the more than rival of 

Johnson : * Nay, sir, any man who has a name, or who has the power of pleasing, 
will be very generally invited in Ix)ncIon. The man, Sterne, I have been told, has 
had engagements for three months.' Goldsmith: * And a very dull fellow.' 
Johnson: * Why, no, sir.' " — Boswell's Life of Johnson, 

** Her [Miss Monckton's] vivacity enchanted the sage, and they used to talk 
together with all imaginable ease. A singular instance happened one evening, 
when she insisted that some of Sterne's writings were very pathetic. Johnson 
bluntly denied it. *I am sure,' said she, *they have affected me,* * Why,' said 
Johnson, smiling, and rolling himself about — * that is, because, dearest, you're 
a dunce.' When she some time afterwards mentioned this to him, he said with 
equal truth and politeness, * Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not 
have said it.' " — Ibid. 

• A passage or two from Stcnie's ** Sermons" may not be without interest 
here. Is not the following, levelled against the cruelties of the Church of Rome, 
stamped with the autograph of the author of the " Sentimental Journey?" — 

'*To be convinced of this, go with me for a moment into the prisons of the 
Inquisition — behold religion with mercy and justice chained down under her feet, — 
there, sitting ghastly upon a black tribunal, propped up with racks, and instru- 
ments of torment — Hark! — what a piteous groan I — See the melancholy wretch 
who uttered it, just brought forth to undergo the anguish of a mock-trial, and 
endure the utmost pain that a studied system of religions cruelty has been able to 
invent. Behold this helpless victim delivered up to his tormentors. His body so 
luasled with sorro^v and long confinement^ youHl see evety neme and muscle as it 
suffers. — Obser\'e the last movement of that horrid engine. — What convulsions it 
has thrown him into ! Consider the nature of the posture in which he now lies 
stretched. — What exquisite torture he endures by it. — 'Tis all nature can bear. — 
Good God ! see how it keeps his weary soul hanging upon his trembling lijjs, 
willing to take its leave, but not suffered to depart. Behold the unhappy wretch 
led back to his cell, — dragg'd out of it again to meet the flames — and the insults in 
his last agonies, which this principle— this principle, that there can be religion 
without morality — has prepared for him." — Sermon 2'jth. 

The next extract is preached on a text to be found in Judges xix. w. I, 2, 3, 
concerning a "certain Levite : " — 

**Such a one the Levite wanted to share his solitude and fill up that uncom- 
fortable blank in the heart in such a situation : for, notwithstanding all we meet 
with in books, in many of which, no doubt, there are a good many handsome 

things said upon the sweets of retirement, &c yet still * it is not good 

for man to be alone : ' nor can all which the cold-hearted pedant stuns our ears 
with upon the subject, ever give one answer of satisfaction to the mind ; in the 
midst of the loudest vauntings of philosophy, nature will have her yearnings for 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 331 

the Dean of St. Patrick's, wrote the above-quoted respectable letter 
to his friend in London : and it was in April of the same year that 
he was pouring out his fond heart to Mrs. Elizabeth Draper, wife of 
" Daniel Draper, Esq., Councillor of Bombay, and, in 1775, chief of 
the factory of Surat — a gentleman very much respected in that 
quarter of the globe." 

" I got thy letter last night, Eliza," Sterne writes, " on my return 
from Lord Bathurst*s, where I dined " — (tiie letter has this merit in it, 
that it contains a pleasant reminiscence of better men than Sterne, 
and introduces us to a portrait of a kind old gentleman) — " I got thy 
letter last night, Eliza, on my return from Lord Bathurst's ; and where 
I was heard — as I talked of thee an hour without intermission — with 
so much pleasure and attention, that the good old Lord toasted your 
health three different times ; and now he is in his 85th year, says 
he hopes to live long enough to be introduced as a friend to my 
fair Indian disciple, and to see her eclipse all other Nabobesses as 
much in wealth as she does already in exterior and, what is far 
better" (for Sterne is nothing without his morality), "in interior 
merit. This nobleman is an old friend of mine. You know he 
was always the protector of men of wit and genius, and has had 
those of the last century, Addison, Steele, Pope, Swift, Prior, &c., 
always at his table. The manner in which his notice began of 
me was as singular as it was polite. He came up to me one 

society and friendship ; — a good heart wants some object to be kind to — and the 
best parts of our blood, and the purest of our spirits, suffer most under the 
destitution. 

" I^t the torpid monk seek Heaven comfortless and alone. God speed him ! 
For my own part, I fear I should never so find the way : let me be wise and reli- 
giousy but let me be Man ; wherever thy Providence places me, or whatever be the 
road I take to Thee, give me some companion in my journey, be it only to remark 
to, * I low our shadows lengthen as our sun goes down ; ' — to whom I may say, 
* How fresh is the face of Nature ! how sweet the flowers of the field I how 
delicious are these fruits ! ' '* — Sermon 18M. 

The first of these passages gives us another drawing of the famous "Captive.'* 
The second shows that the same reflection was suggested to the Rev. Laurence 
by a text in Judges as by \\ic fille-de-ehambre. 

Sterne's Sermons were published as those of ** Mr. Yorick." 



332 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

day as I was at the Princess of Wales's court, and said, ' I want to 
know you, Mr. Sterne, but it is fit you also should know who it is 
that wishes this pleasure. You have heard of an old I^rd Bathuist, 
of whom your Popes and Swifts have sung and spoken so much? 
I have lived my life with geniuses of that cast ; but have survived 
them ; and, despairing ever to find their equals, it is some years since 
I have shut up my books and closed my accounts ; but you have 
kindled a desire in me of opening them once more before I die : 
which I now do : so go home and dine with me.* This nobleman, 
I say, is a prodigy, for he has all the wit and promptness of a man of 
thirty ; a disposition to be pleased, and a power to please others, 
beyond whatever I knew : added to which a man of learning, courtesy, 
and feeling. 

" He heard me talk of thee, Eliza, with uncommon satisfaction — 
for there was only a third person, and of sensibility , with us : and a 
most sentimental afternoon till nine o'clock have we passed ! * But 
thou, Eliza, wert the star that conducted and enlivened the discourse ! 
And when I talked not of thee, still didst thou fill my mind, and warm 
every thought I uttered, for I am not ashamed to acknowledge I 
greatly miss thee. Best of all good girls ! — the sufferings I have 
sustained all night in consequence of thine, Eliza, are beyond the 
power of words. . . . And so thou hast fixed thy Bramin's 

• ** I am glad that you are in love : 'twill cure you at least of the spleen, 
which has a bad effect on both man and woman. I myself must ever have some 
Dulcinea in my head ; it harmonises the soul ; and in these cases I first endeavour 
to make the lady believe so, or rather, I begin first to make myself believe that I 
am in love ; but I carry on my affairs quite in the French way, sentimentally : 
* V amour y say they, *«Vj/ rien sans seutiment.* Now, notwithstanding they make 
such a pother about the 7tvr</, they have no precise idea annexed to it. And so 
much for that same subject called love." — Sterne's Letters: May 23, 1765. 

"P.S. — My * Sentimental Journey' will please Mrs. J and my Lydia" 

[his daughter, afterwards Mrs. Medalle] — **I can answer for those two. It is a 
subject which works well, and suits the frame of mind I have been in for some 
time past. I told you my design in it was to teach us to love the world and our 
fellow-creatures better than we do — so it runs most upon those gentler passions 
and affections which aid so much to it.*' — Letters [1767]. 



STEi^Nf: AND GOLDSMITH. 333 

portrait over thy writing-desk, and will consult it in all doubts and 
difficulties ? — Grateful and good girl ! Yorick smiles contentedly 
over all thou dost : his picture does not do justice to his own 
complacency. I am glad your shipmates are friendly beings " (Eliza 
was at Deal, going back to the Councillor at Bombay, and indeed it 
was high time she should be off). " You could least dispense with 
what is contrary to your own nature, which is soft and gentle, Eliza ; 
it would civilize savages — though pity were it thou should'st be tainted 
with the office. Write to me,. my child, thy delicious letters. Let 
them speak the easy carelessness of a heart that opens itself anyhow, 
everyhow. Such, Eliza, I write to thee ! " (The artless rogue, of 
course he did !) " And so I should ever love thee, most artlessly, 
most affectionately, if Providence permitted thy residence in the 
same section of the globe : for I am all that honour and affection 
can make me * Thy Bramin.* " 

The Bramin continues addressing Mrs. Draper until the departure 
of the " Earl of, Chatham " Indiaman from Deal, on the 2nd of 
April, 1767. He is amiably anxious about the fresh paint for Eliza's 
cabin ; he is uncommonly solicitous about her companions on board : 
" I fear the best of your shipmates are only genteel by comparison 
with the contrasted crew with which thou beholdest them. So 
was — ^you know who — from the same fallacy which was put upon 
your judgment when — but I will not mortify you ! " 

" You know who " was, of course, Daniel Draper, Esq., of 
Bombay — a gentleman very much respected in that quarter of the 
globe, and about whose probable health our worthy Bramin writes 
with delightful candour : — 

** I honour you, Eliza, for keeping secret some things which, if 
explained, had been a panegyric on yourself. There is a dignity in 
venerable affliction which will not allow it to appeal to the world for 
pity or redress. Well have you supported that* character, my amiable, 
my philosophic friend ! And, indeed, I begin to think you have as 
many virtues as my Uncle Toby's widow. Talking of widows — 
pray, Eliza, if ever you are such, do not think of giving yourself to 



334 ENGLISH HUMOUJilSTS, 

some wealthy Nabob, because I design to many you myself. My 
wife cannot live long, and I know not the woman I should like so 
well for her substitute as yourself. Tis true I am ninety-five in 
constitution, and you but twenty-five ; but what I want in youth, I 
will make up in wit and good-humour. Not Swift so loved his Stella, 
Scarron his Maintenon, or Waller his Saccharissa. Tell me, in 
answer to this, that you approve and honour the proposal." 

Approve and honour the proposal ! The coward was writing gay 
letters to his friends this while, with sneering allusions to this poor 
foolish Bramine, Her ship was not out of the Downs, and the channing 
Steme was at the " Mount Coffee-house," with a sheet of gilt-edged 
paper before him, offering that precious treasure his heart to Lady 

P , asking whether it gave her pleasure to see him unhappy? 

whether it added to her triumph that her eyes and lips had turned a 
man into a fool ? — quoting the Lord's Prayer, with a horrible base- 
ness of blasphemy, as a proof that he had desired not to be led into 
temptation, and swearing himself the most tender and sincere fool 
in the world. It was from his home at Coxwould that he wrote the 
Latin letter, which, I suppose, he was ashamed to put into English. 
I find in my copy of the Letters, that there is a note of I can't call 
it admiration, at Letter 112, which seems to announce that there was 
a No. 3 to whom the wretched worn-out old scamp was paying his 
addresses ; * and the year after, having come back to his lodgings in 

♦ **To Mrs. H . 

*' CoxwouU, Nov. 15, 1767. 

** Now be a good dear woman, my H , and execute those commissions 

well, and when I see you I will give you a kiss — there's for you ! But I have 
something else for you which I am fabricating at a great rate, and that is my 
* Sentimental Journey,' which shall make you cry as much as it has affected me, 
or I will give up the business of sentimental writing. ... 

** I am yours, &c. &c., 

" T. Shandy." 
** To THE Earl of 

** Coxwould^ Nov. 28, 1767. 

"My Lord, — 'Tis with the greatest pleasure I take my pen to thank your 
lordship for your letter of inquiry about Yorick : he was worn out, both his spirits 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH, ' 335 

Bond Street, with his " Sentimental Journey " to launch upon the 
town, eager as ever for praise and pleasure — as vain, as wicked, as 
witty, as false as he had ever been — death at length seized the feeble 
wretch, and, on the i8th of March, 1768, that "bale of cadaverous 
goods," as he calls his body, was consigned to Pluto.* In his last 
letter there is one sigh of grace — the real affection with which he 
entreats a friend to be a guardian to his daughter Lydia. All his 
letters to her are artless, kind, affectionate, and no/ sentimental; 
as a hundred pages in his writings are beautiful, and full, not of 
surprising humour merely, but of genuine love and kindness. A 
perilous trade, indeed, is that of a man who lias to bring his tears 
and laughter, his recollections, his personal griefs and joys, his 

and body, with the 'Sentimental Journey.' 'Tis true, then, an author must feel 
himself, or his reader will not ; but I have torn my whole frame into pieces by 
my feeling^s : I believe the brain stands as much in need of recruiting as the body. 
Therefore I shall set out for town the twentieth of next month, after having 
recruited myself a week at York. I might indeed solace myself with my wife 
(who is come from France); but, in fact, I have long been a sentimental being, 
whatever your lordship may think to the contrary." 

• **In February, 1768, Laurence Sterne, his frame exhausted by long debi- 
litating illness, expired at his lodgings in Bond Street, London. There was some- 
thing in the manner of his death singularly resembling the partictdars detailed by 
Mrs. Quickly as attending that of Falsiaffy the compeer of Yorick for infinite jest, 
however unlike in other particulars. As he lay on his bed totally exhausted, he 
complained that his feet were cold, and requested the female attendant to chafe 
them. She did so, and it seemed to relieve him. He complained that the cold 
came up higher ; and whilst the assistant was in the act of chafing his ankles and 
legs, he expired without a groan. It was also remarkable that his death took 
place much in the manner which he himself had wished ; and that the last offices 
were rendered him, not in his own house, or by the hand of kindred affection, but 
in an inn, and by strangers. 

'^ We are well acquainted with Sterne's features and personal appearance, to 
which he himself frequently alludes. He was tall and thin, with a hectic and 
consumptive appearance." — Sir Walter Scott. 

''It is known that Sterne died in hired lodgings, and I have been told that 
his attendants robbed him even of his gold sleeve-buttons while he was expiring." 
— Dr. Ferriar. 

** He died at No. 41 (now a cheesemongers) on the west side of Old Bond 
Street." — Handbook of London, 




336 • ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

private thoughts and feelings to market, to write them on paper, and 
sell them for money. Does he exaggerate his grief, so as to get his 
reader's pity for a false sensibility? feign indignation, so as to 
establish a character for virtue ? elaborate repartees, so that he may 
pass for a wit ? steal from other authors, and put down the theft to 
the credit side of his own reputation for ingenuity and learning? 
feign originality ? affect benevolence or misanthropy ? appeal to the 
gallery gods with claptraps and vulgar baits to catch applause ? 

How much of the paint and emphasis is necessary for the fair 
business of the stage, and how much of the rant and rouge is put on 
for the vanity of the actor. His audience trusts him : can he trust 
himself? How much was deliberate calculation and imposture — 
how much was false sensibility — and how much true feeling ? ^\^lere 
did the lie begin, and did he know where ? and where did the truth 
end in the art and scheme of this man of genius, this actor, this 
quack ? Some time since, I was in the company of a French actor, 
who began after dinner, and at his own request, to sing French songs 
of the sort called des chansons grivoiscs, and which he performed 
admirably, and to the dissatisfaction of most persons present. Having 
finished these, he commenced a sentimental ballad — it was so 
charmingly sung, that it touched all persons present, and especially 
the singer himself, whose voice trembled, whose eyes filled with 
emotion, and who was snivelling and weeping quite genuine tears by 
the time his own ditty was over. I suppose Sterne had this artistical 
sensibility ; he used to blubber perpetually in his study, and finding 
his tears infectious, and that they brought him a great popularity, he 
exercised the lucrative gift of weeping : he utilized it, and cried on 
every occasion. I own that I don't value or respect much the cheap 
dribble of those fountains. He fatigues me with his perpetual 
disquiet and his uneasy appeals to my risible or sentimental faculties. 
He is always looking in my face, watching his' effect, uncertain 
whether I think him an impostor or not ; posture-making, coaxing, 
and imploring me. " See what sensibility I have — own now that 
I'm very clever — do cry now, you can't resist this." The humour 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 337 

of Swift and Rabelais, whom he pretended to succeed, poured from 
them as naturally as song does from a bird ; they lose no manly 
dignity with it, but laugh their hearty great laugh out of their broad 
chests as nature bade them. But this man — ^who can make you laugh, 
who can make you cry too — never lets his reader alone, or will permit 
his audience repose : when you are quiet, he fancies he must rouse you, 
and turns over head and heels, or sidles up and whispers a nasty story. 
The man is a great jester, not a great humourist. He goes to work 
systematically and of cold blood ; paints his face, puts on his ruff and 
motley clothes, and lays down his carpet and tumbles on it. 

For instance, take the "Sentimental Journey," and see in the 
writer the deliberate propensity to make points and seek applause. 
He gets to " Dessein*s Hotel," he wants a carriage to travel to Paris, 
he goes to the inn-yard, and begins what the actors call " business " at 
once. There is that little carriage (the desobligeante), " Four months 
had elapsed since it had finished its career of Europe in the comer 
of Monsieur Dessein*s courtyard, and having sallied out thence but 
a vamped-up business at first, though it had been twice taken to 
pieces on Mount Sennis, it had not profited much by its adventures, 
but by none so little as the standing so many months unpitied in the 
corner of Monsieur Dessein*s coach-yard. Much, indeed, was not to 
be said for it — but something might — and when a few words will 
rescue misery out of her distress, I hate the man who can be a churl 
of them." 

Le tour est fait ! Paillasse has tumbled ! Paillasse has jumped 
over the desobligeante, cleared it^ hood and all, and bows to the noble 
company. Does anybody believe that this is a real Sentiment ? that 
this luxury of generosity, this gallant rescue of Misery — out of an old 
cab, is genuine feeling ? It is as genuine as the virtuous oratory of 
Joseph Surface when he begins, "The man who," &c. &c., and 
wishes to pass off for a saint with his credulous, good-humoured 
dupes. 

Our friend purchases the carriage : after turning that notorious 
old monk to good account, and effecting (like a soft and good- 

22 




338 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

natured Paillasse as he was, and very free with his money when he 
had it,) an exchange of snuff-boxes with the old Franciscan, jogs out 
of Calais \ sets down in immense figures on the credit side of his 
account the sous he gives away to the Montreuil beggars ; and, at 
Nampont, gets out of the chaise and whimpers over that famous dead 
donkey, for which any sentimentalist may cry who will. It is agree- 
ably and skilfully done — that dead jackass : like M. de Soubise's 
cook on the campaign, Sterne dresses it, and serves it up quite 
tender and with a very piquante sauce. But tears, and fine feelings, 
and a white pocket-handkerchief, and a funeral sermon, and horses 
and feathers, and a procession of mutes, and a hearse with a dead 
donkey inside ! Psha, mountebank ! I'll not give thee one penny 
more for that trick, donkey and all ! 

This donkey had appeared once before with signal effect In 
1765, three years before the publication of the " Sentimental Journey," 
the seventh and eighth volumes of " Tristram Shandy " were given to 
the world, and the famous Lyons donkey makes his entry in those 
volumes (pp. 315, 316) : — 

" Twas by a poor ass, with a couple of large panniers at his back, 
who had just turned in to collect eleemosynary turnip-tops and 
cabbage-leaves, and stood dubious, with his two forefeet at the 
inside of the threshold, and with his two hinder feet towards the 
street, as not knowing very well whether he was to go in or no. 

" Now 'tis an animal (be in what hurry I may) I cannot bear to 
strike : there is a patient endurance of suffering wrote so unaffectedly 
in his looks and carriage which pleads so mightily for him, that it 
always disarms me, and to that degree that I do not lilfe to speak 
unkindly to him : on the contrar)', meet him where I will, whether in 
town or country, in cart or under panniers, whether in liberty or 
bondage, I have ever something civil to say to him on my part ; and, 
as one word begets another (if he has as little to do as I), I generally 
fall into conversation with him ; and surely never is my imagination 
so busy as in framing responses from the etchings of his countenance ; 
and where those carry me not deep enough, in flying fi-om my own 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 339 

heart into his, and seeing what is natural for an ass to think — ^as well 
as a man^ upon the occasion. In truth, it is the only creature of all 
the classes of beings below me with whom I can do this. . . . With 
an ass I can commune for ever. 

" ' Come, Honesty,' said I, seeing it was impracticable to 
pass betwixt him and the gate, * art thou for coming in or going 
out?' 

" The ass twisted his head round to look up the street 

" * Well ! ' replied I, * we'll wait a minute for thy driver.* 

" He turned his head thoughtful about, and looked wistfully the 
opposite way. 

" * I understand thee perfectly,' answered I : * if thou takest a 
wrong step in this affair, he will cudgel thee to death. Well ! a 
minute is but a minute ; and if it saves a fellow-creature a drubbing, 
it shall not be set down as ill spent.' 

" He was eating the stem of an artichoke as this discourse went 
on, and, in the little peevish contentions between hunger and 
unsavouriness, had dropped it out of his mouth half-a-dozen times, 
and had picked it up again. * God help thee. Jack ! ' said I, * thou 
hast a bitter breakfast on't — and many a bitter day's labour, and 
many a bitter blow, I fear, for its wages ! 'Tis all, all bitterness to 
thee — whatever life is to others ! And now thy mouth, if one knew 
the truth of it, is as bitter, I dare say, as soot ' (for he had cast aside 
the stem), * and thou hast not a friend perhaps in all this world that 
will give thee a macaroon.' In saying this, I pulled out a paper of 
'em, which I had just bought, and gave him one; — and, at this 
moment that I am teUing it, my heart smites me that there was more 
of pleasantry in the conceit of seeing how an ass would eat a 
macaroon, than of benevolence in giving him one, which presided in 
the act 

" When the ass had eaten his macaroon, I pressed him to come 
in. The poor beast was heavy loaded — his legs seemed to tremble 
under him — he hung rather backwards, and, as I pulled at his halter, 
it broke in my hand. He looked up pensive in my face : * Don't 



340 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

thrash me with it ; but if you will you may/ ' If I do,' said I, * I'll 
be d ; " 

A critic who refuses to see in this charming description wit, 
humour, pathos, a kind nature speaking, and a real sentiment, must 
be hard indeed to move and to please. A page or t^'o farther we 
come to a description not less beautiful — a landscape and figures, 
deliciously painted by one who had the keenest enjoyment and the 
most tremulous sensibility : — 

" *Twas in the road between Nismes and Lunel, where is the best 
Muscatto wine in all France : the sun was set, they had done their 
work : the nymphs had tied up their hair afresh, and the swains were 
preparing for a carousal. My mule made a dead point. * *Tis the 
pipe and tambourine,* said I — * I never will argue a point with one 
of your family as long as I live ; ' so leaping off his back, and 
kicking off one boot into this ditch and t'other into that, * Til take a 
dance,' said I, * so stay you here.' 

" A sunburnt daughter of labour rose up from the group to meet 
me as I advanced towards them ; her hair, which was of a dark 
chestnut approaching to a black, was tied up in a knot, all but a 
single tress. 

" * We want a cavalier,' said she, holding out both her hands, as 
if to offer them. * And a cavalier you shall have,' said I, taking hold 
of both of them. * We could not have done without you,' said she, 
letting go one hand, with self-taught politeness, and leading me up 
with the other. 

** A lame youth, whom Apollo had recompensed with a pipe, and 
to which he had added a tambourine of his own accord, ran sweetly 
over the prelude, as he sat upon the bank. * Tie me up this tress 
instantly,' said Nannette, putting a piece of string into my hand. It 
taught me to forget I was a stranger. The whole knot fell down — 
we had been seven years acquainted. The youth struck the note 
upon the tambourine, his pipe followed, and off we bounded. 

" The sister of the youth — who had stolen her voice from 
heaven — sang alternately with her brother. 'Twas a Gascoigne 



STEHNE AND GOLDSMITH. 



341 



roundelay : ' V^va la joia, fiden la fristessa.' The nymphs joined in 
unison, and their swains an octave below them. 

" Vha la Joia was in Nannette's lips, riva la joia in her eyes. A 
transient spark of amity shot acrdss the space betwixt us. She 
looked amiable. Why could I not live and end my days thus? 
' Just Disposer of our joys and sorrows ! ' cried I, ' why could not a 
man sit down in the lap of content here, and -dance, and sing, and 
say his prayers, and go to heaven with this nut-brown maid?' 
Capriciously did she bend her head on one side, and dance up 
insidious. ' Then 'tis time to dance off,' quoth I." 

And with this pretty dance and chorus, the volume artfully con- 
cludes. Even here one can't give the whole description. There is 
not a page in Sterne's wTiting but has something that were better 
away, a latent corruption — a hint, as of an impure presence." 

Some of that dreary double entendre may be attributed to freer 
times and manners than ours, but not all. The foul Satyr's eyes leer 
out of the leaves constantly : the last words the famous author wrote 

* "With r^ard lo Steme, and the chaige of licentiousness which presses so 
seriously upon his character as a writer, I would remark that there is a sort of 
knowingness, the wit of which depends, ist, on the modesty it gives pain to ; or, 
andly, on the innocence and innocent ignorance over which it triumphs ; or, 3T(IIy, 
on a. certain oscillation in the individual's own mind between the remaining good 
and the encroaching evil of his nature— a snrt of dallying with the devil — a. 
fluxionary art of combinin); courage and cowardice, as when a man snuffs a candle 
with his lingeis for the first time, or better still, perhaps, like that trembling daring 
with which a child toucha a hot tea^um, because it has been Ibrlnddeo ; wa tlut 
the mind has its own white and black angel ; [he same or similar amiuement m 
may be supposed lo take place between an ulJ ikiiauchce nnJ a pinde— the feeling 
resentment, on the one hand, from a prudtTiLinl aniiicty loprcftervcappeanncQtM 
have a character; and, on the other, an iiiivird sympathy with the 
have only to suppose society innocent, ami ihcn ninc-Icnths of this 
would be like a stone that falli in snow, making no sound, liecau^c escitl^ 
resistance ; the remainder rests on its being an offence ogaiiut the good m 
human nature itself. 

"This source, unworthy as it is, may doubtless be cnrr' <i:ii'<1 
fancy, and even humour ; and we have only to regret iIji 
latter are quite distinct from the former, may lie mai!>' 
our imagination the morality of the clutntclers of Mr ^'' 




342 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS. 

were bad and wicked — the last lines the poor stricken wretch penned 
were for pity and pardon. I think of these past writers and of one 
who lives amongst us now, and am grateful for the innocent laughter 
and the sweet and unsullied page which the author of ^* David 
Copperfield " gives to my children. 

'* Jete sur cette boule, 
Laid, chetif et souffrant ; 
Etouffe dans la foule, 
Faute d'etre assez grand : 

** Une plainte touchante 
De ma bouche sortit. 
Le bon Dieu me dit : Chante, 
Chante, pauvre petit ! 

** Chanter, ou je m'abuse. 
Est ma tache ici bas. 
Tous ceux qu'ainsi j 'amuse, 
Ne m'aimeront-ils pas ? " 

In those charming lines of B^ranger, one may fancy described 
the career, the sufferings, the genius, the gentle nature of Goldsmith, 
and the esteem in which we hold him. Who, of the millions whom 
he has amused, doesn^t love him ? To be the most beloved of English 
writers, what a title that is for a man ! * A wild youth, wayward, but 

Trim, which are all antagonists to this spurious sort of wit, from the rest of * Tristram 
Shandy,' and by supposing, instead of them, the presence of two or three callous 
debauchees. The result will be pure disgust. Sterne cannot be too severely cen- 
sured for thus using the best dispositions of our nature as the panders and condi- 
ments for the basest." — Coleridge : Literaiy Kemains^ vol. i. pp. 141, 142. 

• *' He was a friend to virtue, and in his most playful pages never forgets what 
is due to it. A gentleness, delicacy, and purity of feeling distinguishes whatever 
he wrote, and bears a correspondence to the generosity of a disposition which knew 
no bounds but his last guinea 

"The admirable ease and grace of the narrative, as well as the pleasing truth 
with which the principal characters are designed, make the * Vicar of Wakefield ' 
one of the most delicious morsels of fictitious composition on which the human 
mind was ever employed. 

**. . . . We read the * Vicar of W^akcfield ' in youth and in age — we 
return to it again and again, and bless the memory of an author who contrives so 
well to reconcile us to human nature." — Sir Walter Scott. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 343 

full of tenderness and affection, quits the country village where his 
boyhood has been passed in happy musing, in idle shelter, in fond 
longing to see the great world out of doors, and achieve name and 
fortune ; and after years of dire struggle, and neglect and poverty, 
his heart turning back as fondly to his native place as it had longed 
eagerly for change when sheltered there, he writes a book and a 
poem, full of the recollections and feelings of home : he paints the 
friends and scenes of his youth, and peoples Auburn and Wakefield 
with remembrances of Lissoy. Wander he must, but he carries away 
a home-relic with him, and dies with it on his breast His nature is 
truant; in repose it longs for change: as on the journey it looks 
back for friends and quiet. He passes to-day in building an air-castle 
for to-morrow, or in writing yesterday's elegy ; and he would fly away 
this hour, but that a cage and necessity keep him. What is the 
charm of his verse, of his style, and humour? His sweet regrets, 
his delicate compassion, his soft smile, his tremulous sympathy, the 
weakness which he owns? Your love for him is half pity. You 
come hot and tired from the day's battle, and this sweet minstrel 
sings to you. Who could harm the kind vagrant harper ? Whom 
did he ever hurt ? He carries no weapon, save the harp on which 
he plays to you ; and with which he delights great and humble, 
young and old, the captains in the tents, or the soldiers round the 
fire, or the women and children in the villages, at whose porches he 
stops and sings his simple songs of love and beauty. With that 
sweet story of the " Vicar of Wakefield " • he has found entry into 

* **Now Herder came," says Goethe in his Autobiography, relating his first 
acquaintance with Goldsmith*s masterpiece, ** and together with his great know- 
ledge. brought many other aids, and the later publications besides. Among these 
he announced to us the * Vicar of Wakefield * as an excellent work, with the 
German translation of which he would make us acquainted by reading it aloud to 
us himself. .... 

" A Protestant country clergyman is perhaps the most beautiful subject for a 
modem idyl ; he appears like Melchizedeck, as priest and king in one person. To 
the most innocent situation which can be imagined on earth, to that of a husband- 
man, he is, for the most part, united by similarity of occupation as well as by 
equality in family relationships ; he is a father, a master of a family, an agricul- 



344 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

every castle and every hamlet in Europe. Not one of us, however 
busy or hard, but once or twice in our lives has passed an evening 
with him, and undergone the charm of his delightful music. 

turist, and thus perfectly a member of the community. On this pure, beautiful 
earthly foundation rests his higher calling ; to him is it given to guide men through 
life, to take care of their spiritual education, to bless them at all the leading epochs 
of their existence, to instruct, to strengthen, to console them, and if consolation is 
not sufficient for the present, to call up and guarantee the hope of a happier 
future. Imagine such a man with pure human sentiments, strong enough not to 
deviate from them under any circumstances, and by this already elevated above the 
multitude of whom one cannot expect purity and firmness ; give him the learning 
necessary for his office, as well as a cheerful, equable activity, which is even 
passionate, as it neglects no moment to do good — and you will have him well 
endowed. But at the same time add the necessary limitation, so that he must not 
only pause in a small circle, but may also, perchance, pass over to a smaller ; 
grant him good-nature, placability, resolution, and everything else praiseworthy 
that springs from a decided character, and over all this a cheerful spirit of com- 
pliance, and a smiling toleration of his own failings and those of others, ^then you 
will have put together pretty well the image of our excellent Wakefield. 

** The delineation of this character on his course of life through joys and 
sorrows, the ever-increasing interest of the story, by the combination of the entirely 
natural with the strange and the singular, make this novel one of the best which 
has ever been written ; besides this, it has the great advantage that it is quite 
moral, nay, in a pure sense. Christian — represents the reward of a good -will and 
perseverance in the right, strengthens an unconditional confidence in God, and 
attests the final triumph of good over evil ; and all this without a trace of cant or 
pedantry. The author was preserved from both of these by an elocution of mind 
that shows itself throughout in the form of irony, by which this little work must 
appear to us as wise as it is amiable. The author, Dr. Goldsmith, has, without 
question, a great insight into the moral world, into its strength and its infirmities ; 
but at the same time he can thankfully acknowledge that he is an Englishman, and 
reckon highly the advantages which his country and his nation affi>rd him. The 
family, with the delineation of which he occupies himself, stands upon one of the 
last steps of citizen comfort, and yet comes in contact with the highest ; its narrow 
circle, which becomes still more contracted, touches upon the great world through 
the natural and civil course of things ; this little skiff floats on the agitated waves 
of English life, and in weal or woe it has to expect injury or help from the vast 
fleet which sails around it. 

" I may suppose that my readers know this work, and have it in memory ; 
whoever hears it named for the first time here, as well as he who is induced to read 
it again, will thank me." — Goethe : Truth and Poetry ; from my otvn Life, 
(English Translation, vol. i. pp. 378, 379.) [** He 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 345 

Goldsmith's father was no doubt the good Doctor Primrose, whom 
we all of us know.* Swift was yet alive, when the little Oliver was 
bom at Pallas, or Pallasmore, in the county of Longford, in Ireland. 
In 1730, two years after the child's birth, Charles Goldsmith removed 
his family to Lissoy, in the county Westmeath, that sweet " Auburn " 
which every person who hears me has seen in fancy. Here the kind 
parson f brought up his eight children ; and loving all the world, as 



i< 



He seems from infancy to have been compounded of two natures, one bright, 
the other blundering ; or to have had fairy gifts laid in his cradle by the * good 
people ' who haimted his birthplace, the old goblin mansion on the banks of the 
Inny. 

** He carries with him the wayward elfm spirit, if we may so term it, through- 
out his career. His fairy gifts are of no avail at school, academy, or college : 
they unfit him for close study and practical science, and render him heedless of 
everything that does not address itself to his poetical imagination and genial and 
festive feelings ; they dispose him to break away from restraint, to stroll about 
hedges, green lanes, and haunted streams, to revel with jovial companions, or to 
rove the country like a gipsy in quest of odd adventures 

" Though his circumstances often compelled him to associate with the poor, 
they never could betray him into companionship with the depraved. His relish for 
humour, and for the study of character, as we have before observed, brought him 
often into convivial company of a vulgar kind ; but he discriminated between their 
vulgarity and their amusing qualities, or rather wrought from the whole store 
familiar features of life which form the staple of his most popular writings." — 
Washington Irving. 

• **The family of Goldsmith, Goldsmyth, or, as it was occasionally written, 
Gouldsmith, is of considerable standing in Ireland, and seems always to have held 
a respectable station in society. Its origin is English, supposed to be derived from 
that which was long settled at Crayford in Kent." — Prior's Life of Goldsmith. 

Oliver's father, great-grandiather, and great -great-grandfather were clergymen ; 
and two of them married clergymen's daughters. 

t ** At church, with meek and unaffected grace. 
His looks adom'd the venerable place ; 
Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway. 
And fools who came to scoff remain'd to pray. 
The service past, around the pious man, 
With steady zeal each honest rustic ran ; 
E'en children follow'd with endearing wile, 
And pluck'd his gown to share the good man's smile. 
His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest. 
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distrest ; 




346 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

his son says, fancied all the world loved him. He had a crowd of 
poor dependants besides those hungry children. He kept an open 
table ; round which sat flatterers and poor friends, who laughed at 
the honest rector's many jokes, and ate the produce of his seventy 
acres of farm. Those who have seen an Irish house in the present 
day can fancy that one of Lissoy. The old beggar still has his 
allotted comer by the kitchen turf ; the maimed old soldier still gets 
his potatoes and butter-milk ; the poor cottier still asks his honour's 
charity, and prays God bless his reverence for the sixpence : the 
ragged pensioner still takes his place by right and sufferance. There's 
still a crowd in the kitchen, and a crowd round the parlour-table, 
profusion, confusion, kindness, poverty. If an Irishman comes to 
London to make his fortune, he has a half-dozen of Irish dependants 
who take a percentage of his earnings. The good Charles Gold- 
smith* left but little provision for his hungry race when death 

To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, 

But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heaven. 

As some tall cliff that lifts his awful form, 

Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, 

Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, 

Eternal sunshine settles on its head." — Thi Deserted Village. 

• ** In May this year (1768), he lost his brother, the Rev. Henry Goldsmith, for 

whom he had been unable to obtain preferment in the church 

". . . To the curacy of Kilkenny West, the moderate stipend of which, 
forty pounds a year, is sufficiently celebrated by his brother's lines. It has been 
staled that Mr. Goldsmith added a school, which, after having been held at more 
than one place in the vicinity, was finally fixed at Lissoy. Here his talents and 
industry gave it celebrity, and under his care the sons of many of the neighbouring 
gentry received their education. A fever breaking out among the boys about 
1765, they dispersed for a time, but re-assembling at Athlone, he continued his 
scholastic labours there until the time of his death, which happened, like that of 
his brother, about the forty-fifth year of his age. He was a man of an excellent 
heart and an amiable disposition.'* — Prior's Goldsmit%. 
' ' Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see, 
My heart, untravell'd, fondly turns to thee : 
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain. 
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain." 

— The Traveller. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. ^ 347 

summoned him : and one of his daughters being engaged to a Squire 
of rather superior dignity, Charles Goldsmith impoverished the rest 
of his family to provide the girl with a dowry. 

• The small-pox, which scourged all Europe at that time, and 
ravaged the roses off the cheeks of half the world, fell foul of poor little 
01iver*s face, when the child was eight years old, and left him scarred 
and disfigured for his life. An old woman in his father's village 
taught him his letters, and pronounced him a dunce : Paddy Byrne, 
the hedge-schoolmaster, took him in hand ; and firom Paddy Byrne, 
he was transmitted to a clergyman at Elphin. When a child was 
sent to school in those days, the classic phrase was that he was 
placed under Mr. So-and-so's ferule. Poor little ancestors ! It is 
hard to think how ruthlessly you were birched ; and how much of 
needless whipping and tears our small forefathers had to undergo ! 
A relative — kind uncle Contarine, took the main charge of little 
Noll ; who went through his school-days righteously doing as little 
work as he could : robbing orchards, playing at ball, and making his 
pocket-money fly about whenever fortune sent it to him. Everybody 
knows the story of that famous " Mistake of a Night," when the 
young schoolboy, provided with a guinea and a nag, rode up to the 
** best house " in Ardagh, called for the landlord's company over a 
bottle of >vine at supper, and for a hot cake for breakfast in the 
morning ; and found, when he asked for the bill, that the best house 
was Squire Featherstone's, and not the inn for which he mistook it. 
Who does not know every story about Goldsmith? That is a 
delightful and fantastic picture of the child dancing and capering 
about in the kitchen at home, when the old fiddler gibed at him for 
his ugliness, and called him -^sop ; and little Noll made his repartee 
of " Heralds proclaim aloud this saying — See -^sop dancing and his 
monkey playing." One can fancy a queer pitiful look of humour and 
appeal upon that little scarred face — the funny little dancing figure, 
the funny little brogue. In his life, and his writings, which are the 
honest expression of it, he is constantly bewailing that homely face 
and person ; anon, he surveys them in the glass ruefully ; and pre- 




348 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

sently assunjes the most comical dignity. He likes to deck out his 
little person in splendour and fine colours. He presented himself to 
be examined for ordination in a pair of scarlet breeches, and said 
honestly that he did not like to go into the church, because he was 
fond of coloured clothes. When he tried to practise as a doctor, he got 
by hook or by crook a black velvet suit, and looked as big and grand 
as he could, and kept his hat over a patch on the old coat : in better 
days he bloomed out in plum-colour, in blue silk, and in new velvet 
For some of those splendours the heirs and assignees of Mr. Filby, 
the tailor, have never been paid to this day : perhaps the kind tailor 
and his creditor have met and settled the little account in Hades.* 

They showed until lately a window at Trinity College, Dublin, 
on which the name of O. Goldsmith was engraved with a diamond. 
Whose diamond was it ? Not the young sizar's, who made but a poor 
figure in that place of learning. He was idle, penniless, and fond of 
pleasure : \ he learned his way early to the pawnbroker's shop. He 
wrote ballads, they say, for the street-singers, who paid him a crown 
for a poem : and his pleasure was to steal out at night and hear his 
verses sung. He was chastised by his tutor for giving a dance in his 
rooms, and took the box on the ear so much to heart, that he packed 
up his all, pawned his books and little property, and disappeared from 
college and family. He said he intended to go to America, but when 
his money was spent, the young prodigal came home ruefully, and the 
good folks there killed their calf— it was but a lean one — and 
welcomed him back. 

After college, he hung about his mother's house, and lived for 
some years the life of a buckeen — passed a month with this relation 

♦ " When Goldsmith died, half the unpaid bill he owed to Mr. William 
Filby (amounting in all to 79/.) was for clothes supplied to this nephew Hodson." 
— FoRSTER*S Goldsmith^ p. 520. 

As this nephew Hodson ended his days (see the same page) " a prosperous 
Irish gentleman," it is not unreasonable to "wish that he had cleared off Mr. 
Filb/s bill. 

t ** Poor fellow ! He hardly knew an ass from a mule, nor a turkey from a. 
goose, but when he saw it on the table."— Cumberland's Memoirs, 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 349 

and that, a year with one patron, a great deal of time at the public- 
house.* Tired of this life, it was resolved that he should go to 
London, and study at the Temple ; but he got no farther on the 
road to London and the woolsack than Dublin, where he gambled 
away the fifty pounds given to him for his outfit, and whence he 
returned to the indefatigable forgiveness of home. Then he deter- 
mined to be a doctor, and uncle Contarine helped him to a couple 
of years at Edinburgh. Then from Edinburgh he felt that he ought 
to hear the famous professors gf Leyden and Paris, and wrote most 
amusing pompous letters to his uncle about the great Farheim, 
Du Petit, and Duhamel du Monccau, whose lectures he proposed to 
follow. If uncle Contarine believed those letters — if Oliver's mother 
believed that story which the youth related of his going to Cork, 
with the purpose of embarking for America, of his having paid his 
passage-money, and having sent his kit on board ; of the anonymous 
captain sailing away with Oliver's valuable luggage, in a nameless 
ship, never to return ; if uncle Contarine and the mother at Bally- 
mahon believed his stories, they must have been a very simple pair ; 
as it was a very simple rogue indeed who cheated them. When the 
lad, after failing in his clerical examination, after failing in his plan 
for studying the law, took leave of these projects and of his parents, 
and set out for Edinburgh, he saw mother, and uncle, and lazy Bally- 
mahon, and green native turf, and sparkling river for the last time. 
He was never to look on old Ireland more, and only in fancy 
revisit her. 

** But me not destined such delights to share, 
My prime of life in wandering spent and care, 
Impelled, with step unceasing, to pursue 
Some fleeting good that mocks me with the view ; 



♦ "These youthful follies, like the fermentation of liquors, often disturb the 
mind only in order to its future refinement : a life spent in phlegmatic apathy 
resembles those liquors which never ferment, and are consequently always muddy." 
— Goldsmith : Memoir 0/ Voltaire. 

"He [Johnson] said 'Goldsmith was a plant that flowered late 
appeared nothing remarkable about him when he was young.* " — BosWEl 




3SO ENGLISH HUMOURISTS, 

That like the circle bounding earth and skies 
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies : 
My fortune leads to traverse realms miknown, 
And find no spot of all the world my own. " 

I spoke in a former lecture of 'that high courage which enabled 
Fielding, in spite of disease, remorse, and poverty, always to retain a 
cheerful spirit and to keep his manly benevolence and love of truth 
intact, as if these treasures had been confided to him for the public 
benefit, and he was accountable to posterity for their honourable 
employ ; and a constancy equally happy and admirable I think was 
shown by Goldsmith, whose sweet and friendly nature bloomed 
kindly always in the midst of a life's storm, and rain, and bitter 
weather.* The poor fellow was never so fiiendless but he could 
befriend some one; never so pinched and wretched but he could 
give of his crust, and speak his word of compassion. If he had but 
his flute left, he could give that, and make the children happy in the 
dreary London court. He could give the coals in that queer coal- 
scuttle we read of to his poor neighbour : he could give away his 
blankets in college to the poor widow, and warm himself as he 
best might in the feathers : he could pawn his coat to save his 
landlord from gaol : when he was a school-usher he spent his 
earnings in treats for the boys, and the good-natured schoolmaster's 
wife said justly that she ought to keep Mr. Goldsmith's money as well 
as the young gentlemen's. When he met his pupils in later life, 
nothing would satisfy the Doctor but he must treat them still. 
" Have you seen the print of me after Sir Joshua Reynolds ? " he 
asked of one of his old pupils. " Not seen it ? not bought it ? 
Sure, Jack, if your picture had been published, I'd not have been 

♦ **An * inspired idiot,* Goldsmith, hangs strangely about him [Johnson]. 
. . . . Yet, on the whole, there is no evil in the * gooseberry-fool,' but rather 
much good ; of a finer, if of a weaker sort than Johnson's ; and all the more 
genuine that he himself could never become conscious of it, — though unhappily 
never cease cUtempting to become so : the author of the genuine * Vicar of Wake- 
field,' nill he will he, must needs fly towards such a mass of genuine man- 
hood." — Carlvle's Essays (2nd ed.), vol. iv. p. 91. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 3Si 

without it half-an-hour." His purse and his heart were everybody's, 
and his friends* as much as his own. AVhen he was at the height of 
his reputation, and the Earl of Northumberland, going as Lord 
Lieutenant to Ireland, asked if he could be of any service to 
Dr. Goldsmith, Goldsmith recommended his brother, and not 
himself, to the great man. "My patrons," he gallandy said, "are 
the booksellers, and I want no others." * Hard patrons they were, 
and hard work he did ; but he did not complain much : if in his 
early writings some bitter words escaped him, some allusions to 
neglect and poverty, he withdrew these expressions when his works 
were republished, and better days seemed to open for him ; and he did 
not care to complain that printer or publisher had overlooked his 
merit, or left him poor. The Court face was turned from honest 
Oliver, the Court patronized Beattie ; the fashion did not shine on 
him — fashion adored Sterne, t Fashion pronounced Kelly to be the 

* "At present, the few poets of England no longer depend on the great for 
subsistence ; they have now no other patrons but the public, and the public, col- 
lectively considered, is a good and a generous master. It is indeed too frequently 
mistaken as to the merits of every candidate for favour ; but to make amends, it is 
never mistaken long. A performance indeed may be forced for a time into repu- 
tation, but, destitute of real merit, it soon sinks ; time, the touchstone of what is 
truly valuable, will soon discover the fraud, and an author should never arrogate 
to himself any share of success till hx^ works have been read at least ten years with 
satisfaction. 

** A man of letters at present, whose works are valuable, is perfectly sensible of 
their value. Every polite member of the community, by buying what he writes, 
contributes to reward him. The ridicule, therefore, of living in a garret might have 
been wit in the last age, but continues such no longer, because no longer true. 
A writer of real merit now may easily be rich, if his heart be set only on fortune ; 
and for those who have no merit, it is but fit that such should remain in merited 
obscurity."— Goldsmith : Citizen of the Worlds Let. 84. 

t Goldsmith attacked Sterne obviously enough, censuring his indecency, and 
slighting his wit, and ridiculing his manner, in the 53rd letter in the " Citizen of 
the World." 

** As in common conversation," says he, "the best way to make the audience 
laugh is by first laughing yourself ; so in writing, the properest manner is to show 
an attempt at humour, which will pass upon most for humour in reality. To effect 
this, readers must be treated with the most perfect familiarity; in one page the 



352 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

great writer of comedy of his day. A little — not ilHiumour, but plain- 
tiveness — a little betrayal of wounded pride which he showed render 
him not the less amiable. The author of the '' Vicar of Wakefield " 
had a right to protest when Newbery kept back the MS. for tn'o 
years ; had a right to be a little peevish with ^Sterne ; a little angry 
when Colman's actors declined their parts in his delightful comedy, 
when the manager refused to have a scene painted for it, and 
pronounced its damnation before hearing. He had not the great 
public with him ; but he had the noble Johnson, and the admirable 
Reynolds, and the great Gibbon, and the great Burke, and the great 
Fox — friends and admirers illustrious indeed, as famous as those 
who, fifty years before, sat round Pope*s 'able. 

Nobody knows, and I dare say Goldsmith's buoyant temper kept 
no account of all the pains which he endured during the early 
period of his literary career. Should any man of letters in our day 
have to bear up against such, heaven grant he may come out of the 
period of misfortune with such a pure kind heart as that which Gold- 
smith obstinately bore in his breast The insults to which he had to 
submit are shocking to read of — slander, contumely, vulgar satire, 
brutal malignity perverting his commonest motives and actions ; he 
had his share of these, and one's anger is roused at reading of them, 
as it is at seeing a woman insulted or a child assaulted, at the notion 
that a creature so very gentle and weak, and full of love, should have 

author is to make them a low bow, and in the next to pull them by the nose ; he 
must talk in riddles, and then send them to bed in order to dream for the 
solution," &C. 

Sterne's humourous mot on the subject of the gravest part of the charges, then, 
as now, made against him, may perhaps be quoted here, from the excellent, the 
respectable Sir Walter Scott : — 

"Soon after * Tristram' had appeared, Sterne asked a Yorkshire lady of 
fortune and condition, whether she had read his book. *I have not, Mr. Sterne,' 
w^as the answer ; * and to be plain with you, I am informed it is not proper for 
female perusal.' *My dear good lady,' replied the author, *do not be gulled by 
such stories ; the book is like your young heir there ' (pointing to a child of three 
years old, who was rolling on the carpet in his white tunic) : * he shows at times a 
good deal that is usually concealed, but it is all in perfect innocence.' " 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH, 353 

had to suffer so. And he had worse than insult to undergo — to own 
to fault and deprecate the anger of ruffians. There is a letter of his 
extant to one Griffiths, a bookseller, in which poor Goldsmith is 
forced to confess that certain books sent by Griffiths are in the hands 
of a friend from whom Goldsmith had been forced to borrow money. 
" He was wild, sir," Johnson said, speaking of Goldsmith to Boswell, 
with his great, wise benevolence and noble mercifulness of heart — 
" Dr. Goldsmith was wild, sir ; but he is so no more." Ah ! if we 
pity the good and weak man who suffers undeservedly, let us deal 
very gently with him from whom misery extorts not only tears, but 
shame ; let us think humbly and charitably of the human natiure that 
suffers so sadly and falls so low. Whose turn may it be to-morrow ? 
What weak heart, confident before trial, may not succumb under 
temptation invincible ? Cover the good man who. has been van- 
quished — cover his face and pass on. 

For the last half-dozen years of his life. Goldsmith was far 
removed from the pressing of any ignoble necessity : and in the 
receipt, indeed, of a pretty large income from the booksellers his 
patrons. Had he lived but a few years more, his public fame would 
have been as great as his private reputation, and he might have 
enjoyed alive a part of that esteem which his country has ever since 
paid to the vivid and versatile genius who has touched on almost 
every subject of literature, and touched nothing that he did not 
adorn. Except in rare instances, a man is known in our profession, 
and esteemed as a skilful workman, years before the lucky hit which 
trebles his usual gains, and stamps him a popular author. In the 
strength of his age, and the dawn of his reputation, having for backers 
and friends the most illustrious hterary men of his time,* fame and 

♦ " Goldsmith told us that he was now busy in writing a Natural History; 
and that he might have full leisure for it, he had taken lodgings at a farmer's house, 
near to the six-mile stone in the Edgware Road, and had carried down his books 
in two returned postchaises. He said he believed the farmer's family thought him 
an odd character, similar to that in which the Spectator appeared to his landlady 
and her children ; he was The Gentleman. Mr. Mickle, the translator of the 
' Lusiad,' and I, went to visit him at this place a few days afterwards. He was 

23 



354 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS. 

prosperity might have been in store for Goldsmith, had fate so willed 
it ; and, at forty-six, had not sudden disease carried him off. I say 
prosperity rather than competence, for it is probable that no sum 
could have put order into his affairs or sufficed for his irreclaimable 
habits of dissipation. It must be r^nembered that he owed 3,000/. 
when he died. "Was ever poet,** Johnson asked, "so trusted 
before ? ** As has been the case with many another good fellow of 
his nation, his life was tracked and his substance wasted by crowds of 
hungry beggars and lazy dependants. If they came at a lucky time 
(and be sure they knew his affairs better than he did himself, and 
watched his pay-day), he gave them of his money : if they begged 
on empty-purse da)rs he gave them his promissory bills : or he treated 
them to a tavern where he had credit ; or he obliged them with an 
order upon honest Mr. Filby for coats, for which he paid as long as 
he could earn, and until the shears of Filby were to cut for him no 
more. Staggering under a load of debt and labour, tracked by 
bailiffs and jeproachful creditors, running from a hundred poor 
dependants, whose appealing looks were perhaps the hardest of all 
pains for him to bear, devising fevered plans for the morrow, new 
histories, new comedies, all sorts of new literary schemes, flying fh)m 
all these into seclusion, and out of seclusion into pleasure — at last, at 
five and fort>', death seized him and closed his career.* I have been 
many a time in the chambers in the Temple which were his, and 
passed up the staircase, which Johnson, and Burke, and Reynolds 

not at home ; but having a curiosity to see his apartment, we went in, and found 
curious scraps of descriptions of animals scrawled upon the wall with a blacklead 
pencil "— BoswELL. 

♦ **When Goldsmith was dying, Dr. Turton said to him, 'Your pulse is in 
greater disorder than it should be, from the degree of fever which you have ; is 
your mind at ease?* Goldsmith answered it was not" — Dr. Johnson 
{in Boswelt). 

** Chambers, you find, is gone far, and poor Goldsmith is gone much further. 
He died of a fever, exasperated, as I believe, by the fear of distress. He had raised 
money and squandered it, by every artifice of acquisition and folly of expense. But 
et not his failings be remembered ; he was a very great man. " — Dr. Johnson to 
Bonoelly July ^th^ 1774. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. ^355 

trod to see their friend, their poet, their kind Goldsmith — the stair on 
which the poor women sat weeping bitterly when they heard that the 
greatest and most generous of all men was dead within the black oak 
door.* Ah, it was a different lot from that for which the poor fellow 
sighed, when he wrote with heart yearning for home those most 
charming of all fond verses, in which he fancies he revisits Auburn — 

" Here, as I take my solitary rounds, 
Amidst thy tangled walks and ruined grounds, 
And, many a year elapsed, return to view 
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew, 
Remembrance wakes, with all her busy train, 
Swells at my heart, and turns the past to pain. 

In all my wanderings round this world of care, 
In all my griefs — and God has given my share — 
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown, 
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down ; 
To husband out life's taper at the close, 
And keep the flame from wasting by repose ; 
I still had hopes — for pride attends us still — 
Amidst the swains to show my book -learned skill. 
Around my fire an evening group to draw, 
And tell of all I felt and all I saw ; 
And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue. 
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew — 
I still had hopes — my long vexations past. 
Here to return, and die at home at last 

O blest retirement, friend to life's decline ! 
Retreats from care that never must be mine — 

♦ "When Burke was told [of Gk)ldsmith's death] he burst into tears. 
Reynolds was in his painting-room when the messenger went to him ; but at 
once he laid his pencil aside, which in times of great family distress he had not 
been known to do, left his painting-room, and did not re-enter it that day 

** The staircase of Brick Court is said to have been filled with mourners, the 
reverse of domestic ; women without a home, without domesticity of any kind, 
with no friend but him they had come to weep for ; outcasts of that great, solitary, 
wicked city, to whom he had never forgotten to be kind and charitable. And he 
had domestic mourners, too. His coffin was re-opened at the request of Miss 
Homeck and her sister (such was the regard he was known to have for them !) 
that a lock might be cut from his hair. It was in Mrs. Gwyn's possession when 
she died, after nearly seventy years."— Forstbr's Goldsmith, 



356 EN GUSH HUMOURISTS, 

How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these, 
A youth of labour with an age of ease ; 
Who quits a world where strong temptations try, 
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly ! 
For him no wretches bom to work and weep 
Explore the mine or tempt the dangerous deep ; 
No surly porter stands in guilty state 
To spurn imploring famine from his gate : 
But on he moves to meet his latter end, 
Angels around befriending virtue's friend ; 
Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay, 
Whilst resignation gently slopes the way ; 
And all his prospects brightening at the last. 
His heaven commences ere the world be past." 

In these verses, I need not say with what melody, with what 
. touching truth, with what exquisite beauty of comparison — as indeed 
in hundreds more pages of the writings of this honest soul — the 
whole character of the man is told — ^his humble confession of faults 
and weakness ; his pleasant little vanity, and desire that his village 
should admire him ; his simple scheme of good in which everybody 
was to be happy — no beggar was to be refused his dinner — nobody 
in fact was to work much, and he to be the harmless chief of the 
Utopia, and the monarch of the Irish Yvetot. He would have told 
again, and widiout fear of their failing, those famous jokes * which 

• " Goldsmith's incessant desire of being conspicuous in company was the 
occasion of his sometimes appearing to such disadvantage, as one should hardly 
have supposed possible in a man of his genius. When his literary reputation had 
risen deservedly high, and his society was much courted, he became very jealous of 
the extraordinary attention which was ever3rwhere paid to Johnson. One evening, 
in a circle of wits, he found fault with me for talking of Johnson as entitled to the 
honour of unquestionable superiority. 'Sir,' said he, 'you are for malfjng a 
monarchy of what should be a republic.' 

" He was still more mortified, when, talking in a company with fluent 
vivacity, and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of aU present, a German 
who sat next him, and perceived Johnson rolling himself as if about to speak, 
suddenly stopped him, saying, * Stay, stay — ^Toctor Shonson is going to zay zome- 
thing.' This was no doubt very provoking, especially to one so irritable as Gold- 
smith, who frequently mentioned it with strong expressions of indignation. 

" It may also be observed that Goldsmith was sometimes content to be treated 
with an easy familiarity, but upon occasions would be consequential and important 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 357 

had hung fire in London ; he would have talked of his great friends 
of the Club — of my Lord Clare and my Lord Bishop, my Lord 
Nugent — sure he knew them intimately, and was hand and glove with 
some of the best men in town — ^and he would have spoken of 
Johnson and of Burke, and of Sir Joshua who had painted him 
— and he would have told wonderful sly stories of Ranelagh and 
the Pantheon, and the masquerades at Madame Comelis'; and 
he would have toasted, with a sigh, the Jessamy Bride — the lovely 
Mary Homeck. 

The figure of that charming young lady forms one of the prettiest 
recollections of Goldsmith's life. She and her beautiful sister, who 
married Bunbury, the graceful and humourous amateur artist of those 

An instance of this occurred in a small particular. Johnson had a way of con- 
tracting the names of his friends, as Beauclerk, Beau; Boswell, Bozzy 

I remember one day, when Tom Davies was telling that Dr. Johnson said — * We 
are all in labour for a liame to Goldy^s play,* Goldsmith seemed displeased that 
such a liberty should be taken with his name, and said, * I have often desired him 
not to call me Goidy,^ " 

This is one of several of Boswell's depreciatory mentions of Goldsmith— which 
may well irritate biographers and admirers — and also those who take that more 
kindly and more profound view of Boswell's own character, which was opened up 
by Mr. Carlyle's famous article on his book. No wonder that Mr. Irving calls 
Boswell an "incarnation of toadyism." And the worst of it is, that Johnson 
himself has suffered from this habit of the Laird of Auchinleck's. People are 
apt to forget under what Boswellian stimulus the great Doctor uttered many hasty 
things : — things no more indicative of the nature of the depths of his character than 
the phosphoric gleaming of the sea, when struck at night, is indicative of radical 
corruption of nature ! In truth, it is clear enough on the whole that both Johnson 
and Goldsmith appreciated each other, and that they mutually knew it. They 
were — as it were, tripped up and flung against each other, occasionally, by the 
blundering and silly gambolling of people in company. 

Something must be allowed for Boswell's ** rivalry for Johnson's good graces " 
with Oliver (as Sir Walter Scott has remarked), for Oliver was intimate with the 
Doctor before his biographer was, — and, as we all remember, marched off with him 
to "take tea with Mrs. Williams" before Boswell had advanced to that honourable 
degree of intimacy. But, in truth, Boswell — though he perhaps showed more 
talent in his delineation of the Doctor than is generally ascribed to him— had not 
faculty to take a fair view of two great men at a time. Besides, as Mr. Forster 
justly remarks, **he was impatient of Goldsmith from the first hour of their 
acq}XSimiance"^~Li/e and AdventttreSf p. 292. 



358 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS. 

days, when Gilray had but just begun to try his powers, were among 
the kindest and dearest of Goldsmith's many friends, cheered and 
pitied him, travelled abroad with him, made him welcome at their 
home, and gave him many a pleasant holiday. He bought his finest 
clothes to figure at their country-house at Barton — ^he wrote them 
droll verses. They loved him, laughed at him, played him tricks and 
made him happy. He asked for a loan from Garrick, and Garrick 
kindly supplied him, to enable him to go to Barton : but there were 
to be no more holidays, and only one brief struggle more for poor 
Goldsmith. A lock of his hair was taken from the coffin and given to 
the Jessamy Bride. She lived quite into our time. Hazlitt saw her 
an old lady, but beautiful still, in Northcote's painting-room, who told 
the eager critic how proud she always was that Goldsmith had 
admired her. The younger Colman has left a touching reminiscence 
of him. Vol. i. 6^y 64. 

"I was only five years old," he says, "when Goldsmith took 
me on his knee one evening whilst he was drinking coflfee with my 
father, and began to play with me, which amiable act I returned, 
with the ingratitude of a peevish brat, by giving him a very smart 
slap on the face : it must have been a tingler, for it left the marks of 
my spiteful paw on his cheek. This infantile outrage was followed 
by summary justice, and I was locked up by my indignant father in 
an adjoining room to jindergo solitary imprisonment in the dark. 
Here I began to howl and scream most abominably, which was no 
bad step towards my liberation, since those who were not inclined 
to pity me might be likely to set me free for the purpose of abating a 
nuisance. 

"At length a generous friend appeared to extricate me from 
jeopardy, and that generous friend was no other than the man I had 
so wantonly molested by assault and battery — it was the tender- 
hearted Doctor himself, with a lighted candle in his hand, and a 
smile upon his countenance, which was still partially red from the 
effects of my petulance. I sulked and sobbed as he fondled and 
soothed, till I began to brighten. Goldsmith seized the propitious 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH, 359 

• 

moment of returning good-humour, when he put down the candle 
and began to conjure. He placed three hats, which happened to be 
in the room, and a shilling under each. The shillings he told me 
were England, France, and Spain. * Hey presto cockalorum I ' cried 
the Doctor, and lo, on imcovering the shillings, which had been 
dispersed each beneath a separate hat, they were all found congre- 
gated under one. I was no politician at five years old, and therefore 
might not have wondered at the sudden revolution which brought 
England, France, and Spain all under one crown ; but, as also I was 

no conjuror, it amazed me beyond measure From that 

time, whenever the Doctor came to visit my father, * I plucked his 
gown to share the good man's smile ; * a game at romps constantly 
ensued, and we were always cordial friends and merry pla3rfellows. 
Our unequal companionship varied somewhat as to sports as I grew 
older ; but it did not last long : my senior playmate died in his forty- 
fifth year, when I had attained my eleventh. In all the 

numerous accounts of his virtues and foibles, his genius and absur- 
dities, his knowledge of nature and ignorance of the world, his 
' compassion for another's woe ' was always predominant ; and my 
trivial story of his humouring a froward child weighs but as a feather 
in the recorded scale of his benevolence." 

Think of him reckless, thriftless, vain if you like — but merciful, 
gentle, generous, full of love and pity. He passes out of our life, 
and goes to render his account beyond it. Think of the poor 
pensioners weeping at his grave; think of the noble spirits that 
admired and deplored him ; think of the righteous pen that wrote 
his epitaph — ^and of the wonderful and unanimous response of affec- 
tion with which the world has paid back the love he gave it. His 
humour delighting us still : his song fresh and beautiful as when first 
he charmed with it : his words in all our mouths : his very weak- 
nesses beloved and familiar — his benevolent spirit seems still to smile 
upon us : to do gentle kindnesses : to succour with sweet charity : 
to soothe, caress, and forgive : to plead with the fortunate for the 
unhappy and the poor. 



36o ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

His name is the last in the list of those men of humour who have 
formed the themes of the discourses which you have heard so kindly. 

Long before I had ever hoped for such an audience, or dreamed 
of the possibility of the good fortune which has brought me so many 
friends, I was at issue with some of my literary brethren upon a point 
— ^which they held from tradition I think rather than experience — that 
our profession was neglected in this country ; and that men of letters 
were ill-received and held in slight esteem. It would hardly be 
grateful of me now to alter my old opinion that we do meet with good- 
will and kindness, with generous helping hands in the time of our 
necessity, with cordial and friendly recognition. What claim had any 
one of these of whom I have been speaking, but genius? What 
return of gratitude, fame, affection, did it not bring to all? 

What punishment befell those who were unfortunate among them, 
but that which follows reckless habits and careless lives ? For these 
faults a wit must suffer like the dullest prodigal that ever ran in debt 
He must pay the tailor if he wears the coat ; his children must go in 
rags if he spends his money at the tavern ; he can't come to London 
and be made Lord Chancellor if he stops on the road and gambles 
away his last shilling at Dublin. And he must pay the social penalty 
of these follies too, and expect that the world will shun the man of 
bad habits, that women will avoid the man of loose life, that prudent 
folks will close their doors as a precaution, and before a demand 
should be made on their pockets by the needy prodigal. With what 
difficulty had any one of these men to contend, save that eternal and 
mechanical one of want of means and lack of capital, and of which 
thousands of young lawyers, young doctors, young soldiers and sailors,, 
of inventors, manufacturers, shopkeepers, have to complain ? Hearts 
as brave and resolute as ever beat in the breast of any wit or poet, 
sicken and break daily in the vain endeavour and unavailmg struggle 
against life's difficulty. Don't we see daily ruined inventors, grey- 
haired midshipmen, baulked heroes, blighted curates, barristers pining 
a hungry life out in chambers, the attorneys never mounting to their 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH, 361 

garrets, whilst scores of them are rapping at the door of the successful 
quack below ? If these suflfer, who is the author, that he should be 
exempt ? Let us bear our ills with the same constancy with which 
others endure them, accept our manly part in life, hold our own, and 
ask no more. I can conceive of no kings or laws causing or curing 
Goldsmith's improvidence, or Fielding's fatal love of pleasure, or 
Dick Steele's mania for running races with the constable. You never 
can outrun that sure-footed officer — not by any swiftness or by dodges 
devised by any genius, however great ; and he carries off the Tatler 
to the spunging-house, or taps the Citizen of the World on the 
shoulder as he would any other mortal 

Does society look down on a man because he is an author ? I 
suppose if people want a buflfoon they tolerate him only in so far as 
he is amusing ; it can hardly be expected that they should respect 
him as an equal. Is there to be a guard of honour provided for the 
author of the last new novel or poem ? how long is he to reign, and 
keep other potentates out of possession ? He retires, grumbles, and 
prints a lamentation that literature is despised. If Captain A. is left 
out of Lady B.'s parties he does not state that the army is despised : 
if Lord C. no longer asks Counsellor D. to dinner, Counsellor D. 
does not announce that the bar is insulted. He is not fair to society 
if he enters it vd\h this suspicion hankering about him ; if he is 
doubtful about his reception, how hold up his head honestly, and 
look frankly in the face that world about which he is full of suspicion ? 
Is he place-hunting, and thinking in his mind that he ought to be 
made an Ambassador, like Prior, or a Secretary of State, like Addison ? 
his pretence of equality falls to the ground at once : he is scheming 
for a patron, not shaking the hand of a friend, when he meets the 
world. Treat such a man as he deserves ; laugh at his buffoonery, 
and give him a dinner and a ban jour; laugh at his self-sufficiency and 
absurd assumptions of superiority, and his equally ludicrous airs of 
martyrdom : laugh at his flattery and his scheming, and buy it, if it's 
worth the having. Let the wag have his dinner and the hireling his 
pay, if you want him, and make a profound bow to the grand homme 



362 ENGUSH HUMOURISTS, 

incompins^ and the boisterous martyr, and show him the door. The 
great world, the great aggregate experience, has its good sense, as it 
has its good humour. It detects a pretender, as it trusts a loyal heart 
It is kind in the main : how should it be otherwise than kind, when it 
is so wise and clear-headed? To any literary man who says, "It 
despises my profession," I say, with all my might — no, no, no. It 
may pass over your individual case — how many a brave fellow has 
failed in the race, and perished unknown in the struggle ! — but it treats 
you as you merit in the main. If you serve it, it is not unthankful ; 
if you please, it is pleased ; if you cringe to it, it detects you, and 
scorns you if you are mean ; it returns your cheerfulness with its good 
humour ; it deals not ungenerously with your weaknesses ; it recognizes 
most kindly your merits ; it gives you a fair place and fair play. To 
any one of those men of whom we have spoken was it in the main 
ungrateful? A king might refuse Goldsmith a pension, as a publisher 
might keep his masterpiece and the delight of all the world in his 
desk for two years ; but it was mistake, and not ill-will. Noble and 
illustrious names of Swift, and Pope, and Addison ! dear and honoured 
memories of Goldsmith and Fielding ! kind friends, teachers, bene- 
factors ! who shall say that our country, which continues to bring you 
such an unceasing tribute of applause, admiration, love, sympathy, 
does not do honour to the literary calling in the honour which it 
bestows upon you 1 



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